Lung tests

I've been referred for some tests to explore why I've been very short of breath. There is some concern that I have Rheumatoid related lung disease which, at 27, sounds really quite scary. I hope it's something simple and not RA related.

Can anyone tell me what sort of tests they had and what it might mean for me if the RA or the medications are affecting the lungs? I'm nervous about the thought of maybe needing to cease a medication if it's causing lung problems.

Thank you in advance.

15 Replies

  • I had some tests when I was originally diagnosed with Lupus - maybe they would be similar as it is also auto-immune/inflammatory.

    They sat me in front of a big clear cannister and put a clip on my nose. I got a mouth piece that looked a bit like what divers use, which was connected to the cannister. I had to breathe out as much as I possibly could & the volume was measured by a float in the cannister. After that, they pushed air from it into my lungs to measure their maximum capacity. (I think it might have given them an indication of elasticity as well?) That bit was a little uncomfortable as I felt that I was being blown up like a balloon - a bit beyond what is normal when you are breathing for yourself.

    It was quick & painless - always a good thing - just not sure if your test is going to be the same. Hope it goes OK for you.

  • They are querying Lupus in addition to RA, so maybe that's why they are keen to rule out anything autoimmune related. Thank you for your helpful reply.

  • I had some lung capacity tests way back in 1985 Crashdoll but that was following a spontaneous pneumothorax. I can't help with any experience since being diagnosed I'm afraid but I really do hope it's a simple procedure & all comes back clear. It is really worrying when they just say what you're having & not what it's for. It could maybe go some way to explaining why you've been feeling so wretched lately though.

    Hopefully someone will be along soon who has needed investigations for the lungs. Keep us updated won't you?

  • Thanks for your reply. I like to keep informed about these things but equally, don't like to worry, so perhaps they were trying to strike a balance. I will let you know when I hopefully get the all clear. ;)

  • Hi crash doll

    I had lung tests after I had been on methotrexate a few years, everything came back normal.

    Think positively.


  • Thank you. Yeah, pretty sure it's nothing to worry about. Just another trip to the hospital and trying to fit it in to my very busy job!

  • It's not easy is it! I've had one appointment a week at a hospital 90 miles away for 4 weeks in a row recently. I was so sick of it. Hope it goes well x

  • Could your shortness of breath be associated with anxiety about your condition and how you are coping? I find that I unconsciously breath more shallowly when I'm tense and in pain.

    I do breathing exercises (diaphragmatic breathing) to combat it, but sometimes it takes me by surprise - I walk upstairs and have to stop to get my breath back, but I know (after tests) that my lungs are fine and I have no restriction.

  • I suspect it's more likely to be associated with the pain from my costochondritis. I'm in a lot of pan at the moment. I asked my physio if she would help me with breathing exercises but she said we had to rule out anything else first.

  • It's a good idea to get the checks done . They are very simple although you need to concentrate and do what the staff tell you to do as some breath will be short and forceful that you need to blow and others will be longer and more of a sigh in some tests, depending what the docs want.

    The tests are all quick and in general you get the results quickly. A lot of simple problems can be helped by inhalers, tablets etc and if there is a problem the sooner you find out and get it treated and see which Rheumy drugs they may wish to change the better.

    However a lot of times the tests are fine so I hope your will be normal too x

    Let us know how you get on??

  • Thank you, Allanah. I am about 99.999999% confident that they will come out perfectly normal but it's worth checking, I think.

  • Hi crashdoll,you will probably have a lung function test,breathing in and out of a mouthpiece and holding the breath for as long as you can,you sit in a cubicle,whilst being given instructions by the nurse.i had breathing problems several years ago,I was diagnosed with bronchiestatis,a lower lung problem caused by RA,it has caused me some problems, as any chest infection makes the tiny tubes in the lung to become blocked by mucus,but can be controlled with antibiotics.i wish you well and don't get to worried.

  • Thank you for the reassurance. :)

  • There are various machines that you can breath into, to check things like lung capacity, and how flexible or stiff your lungs are. Also, they will possibly do some kind of imaging - maybe just a plain chest xray.

  • Hi Crashdoll. Sorry to hear of your resp problems. I have had sero neg lupus for many years with little other than fatigue and joint pain until 2012/13. I started to get numerous breathing problems - repeated bouts of pleuritic pain, apneas at night (terrifying), shortness of breath when flat, pulmonary change on CT and so on. I have had 3 monthly lung function tests for the past 2 years and, whilst various things are wrong, nothing points to any specific cause. The PFT's can take anything from 30 - 90 mins and are painless. The technicians talk you through each exercise and encourage you all the way. I now have inhalers designed for people with COPD and asthma although I don't have either and they do help. best of luck with your tests. Clare x

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