A healthy lung (left) and one with emphysema.
Photograph courtesy of the American Lung Association (permission pending)
Here's a way you can test your lung power in two easy steps. All you need is a watch with a second hand:
Step 1: Take a deep breath, and hold it for one second.
Step 2: Start timing, then blow the air out as hard and fast as you can until you can't exhale any longer.
How long did it take you to empty your lungs?
A person with healthy lungs should be able to blow out all the air in their lungs in 4-6 seconds or less. If it takes them longer, one cause may be emphysema, a disease that affects the structure of the lungs in 2 million Americans. (Other causes may be asthma, bronchitis, cancer, or more.)
What you just did is a simplified version of how doctors diagnose lung disease. But is there a better way to measure how much lung power the patient has?
Here's your chance to find out. Click Begin Lesson Here above to start the activity. WebImage may take a short while to load.