How to Pass a Respiratory Physical Test?

The respiratory system is made up of organs and tissues that aid in breathing. It consists of your airways, lungs, and blood arteries. In addition, the respiratory system includes the muscles that power your lungs. To protect these components that work together to transport oxygen throughout your body, many employers need their employees to perform a respiratory physical test.

What is a Respiratory Physical Test?

Respiratory physical exams are non-invasive diagnostics that determine how effectively your breathing system and lungs operate. The tests assess lung volume, capacity, flow rates, and gas exchange. This information can assist your healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating some lung problems.

Why Might You Need Respiratory Physical Tests?

Respiratory physical exams can be performed for a variety of reasons. They are sometimes performed on healthy adults as part of a standard physical test. They are also frequently performed in specific types of workplaces to guarantee employee health (including graphite factories and mines). These tests may also be administered if your healthcare professional requires assistance in diagnosing a health concern, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Infections of the lung
  • Breathing difficulties as a result of a chest injury or recent surgery
  • Chronic lung diseases, including asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema
  • Asbestosis
  • Scoliosis, tumors, inflammation, or scarring of the lungs
  • Scleroderma (involves connective tissue thickening and hardness)

Respiratory physical testing may be used to assess lung function before surgery or other operations in individuals with lung or heart difficulties, smokers, or other health issues. RPTs are also used to evaluate therapy for asthma, emphysema, and other chronic lung diseases. Your healthcare physician may also recommend RPTs for other reasons.


What are the Types of Respiratory Physical Tests?

Here are the different types of lung tests:

  • Spirometry
  • Body plethysmography
  • Lung diffusion capacity
  • Bronchial provocation test
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise stress test
  • Pulse oximetry test
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide test


What Happens During Respiratory Physical Tests?

Your doctor selects your tests based on the information they need to discover. Each test operates uniquely.



A medical professional will initially place soft clips on your nose. The nasal clips prevent you from breathing through your nose. Next, you’ll wrap your lips over a mouthpiece connecting to a spirometer. The medical professional will then instruct you on breathing in and out. Take slow, deep breaths in and out. Take deep breaths and blow out as forcefully and quickly as you can.


Body Plethysmography

A healthcare expert will apply your nose clips, and you will sit or stand in the clear box. Your service provider will shut the door. For nearly five minutes, the door stays closed. Next, you will place your lips around the mouthpiece, and the practitioner will instruct you on breathing in and out. As you breathe, the spirometer detects pressure or volume changes in the box, which allows it to calculate your lung volume.


Lung Diffusion Capacity

A lung diffusion capacity test determines how efficiently oxygen flows from your lungs into your bloodstream. This examination is similar to spirometry. You inhale into a tube that is connected to a machine. The test can help detect a condition of the blood veins that connect your heart and lungs and the extent of damage caused by a disease like emphysema, which causes your air sacs to degrade gradually.


Bronchial Provocation Test

You inhale a substance that tightens your airways. After that, you take a spirometry test. This is repeated multiple times. Your doctor will use the results to specify how much your airways tighten during an asthma episode.


Cardiopulmonary exercise stress test

A healthcare practitioner will connect you to machines that monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. Afterward, you’ll walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. The devices will assess several parts of your heart, lungs, and muscles during the exam.


Pulse oximetry test

This non-invasive test determines the amount of oxygen in your blood. The doctor attaches a probe to your finger, earlobe, or another portion of your skin. The gadget measures the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells using light.


Arterial blood gas test

This test determines the concentrations of gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood drawn from one of your arteries. An arterial blood gas test is typically performed in a hospital or at your doctor’s office. A nurse or medical expert will use a needle to draw blood, most likely from your wrist. It may sting, and you may bleed where the needle was inserted.


Fractional exhaled nitric oxide test

Certain types of asthma may cause your body to produce excessive amounts of a gas known as nitric oxide. The fractional exhaled nitric oxide test determines how much is present in the air you breathe out. You exhale steadily and gradually into a tube linked to a portable device for this test.


What is a Respiratory Assessment?

Respiratory assessments can identify issues before they become crises. A respiratory assessment also gives vital information about the patient’s health and indications regarding the next therapeutic measures in hypoxic individuals or those with airway blockages. Let’s go through the fundamentals of a thorough and complete respiratory assessment.


First medical practitioners must perform an inspection of respiratory system. They look for significant respiratory signals in the patient:

  • Evaluate the respiration rate.
  • Examine the patient’s chest shape for any anomalies.
  • Talk about breath shortness and keep an eye out for indications of strained breathing.
  • Take the patient’s pulse and blood pressure readings.
  • Check the oxygen saturation. If it is less than 90%, the patient needs oxygen.


Hearing the patient’s breathing sounds offers important information about the patient’s general health. Examine the chest, back, and sides for evidence of noisy or laborious breathing. The following are symptoms of irregular breathing:

  • Sounds like crackling, popping, or bubbling may suggest pneumonia or pulmonary edema.
  • Wheezing is a symptom of lung illness, asthma, allergies, or infection.
  • Pleural friction. It is a grating sound produced when the pleural surfaces rub together, indicating pneumonia.

Physical Examination

A hands-on examination is essential for discovering problems. To evaluate the patient, doctors go through a respiratory examination checklist:

  1. As the patient breathes deeply, the doctor palpates the back at the tenth rib, placing a thumb on each rib (palpation of the respiratory system). Doctors might find a tumor or pneumonia on one side in patients with limited lung expansion. A lack of lung expansion may also suggest a pneumothorax.
  2. Doctors assess the thorax by placing your palms over it and feeling for swelling, discomfort, and retractions while breathing. They examine the ribcage for lumps, scars, and swelling.
  3. Patients must fold their arms over their chest. Then, as the patient delivers a sentence, doctors place both hands on either side of the back, contacting the patient’s back with their fingers.
  4. As the patient speaks, the doctor should sense a thrill. If the fluid is in the lungs or a lower respiratory blockage, the vibration will be more severe due to the fluid’s capacity to transfer sound more efficiently.


What are the Risks of Respiratory Physical Tests?

Most individuals find respiratory function testing to be safe and rapid because it is not an intrusive process. However, the individual has to follow clear, basic instructions. In addition, every procedure involves some level of risk, such as:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Deep inhaling causes an asthma attack


In some circumstances, respiratory function testing should be avoided. Potential reasons include:

  • A heart attack or stroke during the last three months
  • A significant aneurysm of a key vessel
  • A severe head injury
  • Recent eye surgery
  • Confusion


How to Prepare for Respiratory Physical Testing?

Your doctor will go over the test and explain what to expect. You can ask them anything you have. To achieve the best results:

  • Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, take your drugs before your test.
  • Don’t smoke before the test.
  • If you take a short-acting inhaler, avoid using it for at least 6 to 8 hours before the test. If you must use it, notify your doctor prior to the test.
  • Do not consume alcohol for at least 4 hours before the exam.
  • Eat nothing heavy for at least 2 hours prior to the exam.
  • Only engage in intense workouts for at least 30 minutes prior to the test.
  • Caffeine-containing foods and beverages should be avoided.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • If you use dentures, you must wear them during the exam. They can assist you in creating a tight seal around the mouthpiece.


Understanding the Results of Respiratory Physical Testing

You can resume your usual everyday activities after the exam. Age, height, and gender are used to determine normal values. A lung condition may be present if a value is unusual. A patient with normal lungs may sometimes have an abnormal breathing test value. Your physician will explain the significance of your test findings.

If any of your pulmonary function test results were abnormal, this might indicate that you have a lung disease. A pulmonary function test can detect two forms of lung disease: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and non-obstructive pulmonary disease.

  • Obstructive diseases. These disorders cause airways to constrict, making it difficult for air to exit the lungs. Asthma and bronchitis are examples of obstructive lung illnesses.
  • Restrictive diseases. The lungs or chest muscles are unable to expand enough in certain disorders. This decreases airflow and the capacity to provide oxygen to circulation. Scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary fibrosis are examples of restrictive lung conditions.


How Long Does a Respiratory Function Test Take?

A respiratory function test might take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. Inform your healthcare practitioner if you become exhausted throughout the exam. You may take pauses between sections of the test. And no, respiratory function testing isn’t painful.


When is Respiratory Function Testing Performed?

If you experience lung or airway symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing, are undergoing surgery, or use tobacco or smoke, your healthcare professional may prescribe respiratory function testing. Among these signs are:

  • Tightness, discomfort, or pressure in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing, particularly if there is mucus or phlegm present.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing


Even if you have no symptoms, your doctor may perform a respiratory function test as part of a standard physical checkup.

To diagnose lung diseases, your healthcare provider will perform respiratory function testing. Results will be available in a few days after an RPT. They don’t take long, aren’t painful, and you won’t feel anything afterward.

Contact our healthcare provider at ProAm if you notice any changes in your breathing. In addition, in order to ensure the health of your employees, we provide a comprehensive range of employee testing services, including respiratory function testing.

Call 800-674-9515 immediately or request an online appointment for respiratory physical tests.