After doctors complete the medical history and physical examination Medical History and Physical Examination for Lung Disorders A doctor first asks the person about symptoms. Chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath (dyspnea) either at rest or during exertion, cough, coughing up of sputum or blood (hemoptysis), and... read more , they often take a chest x-ray Chest Imaging Chest imaging studies include X-rays Computed tomography (CT) CT angiography Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) read more . The results of the history, physical examination, and chest x-ray often suggest what additional testing may be needed to determine what is causing the person's symptoms.
Doctors may test for lung disorders by measuring the lungs' capacity to hold and move air and to absorb oxygen. These tests (called pulmonary function tests Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) Pulmonary function tests measure the lungs' capacity to hold air, to move air in and out, and to absorb oxygen. Pulmonary function tests are better at detecting the general type and severity... read more ) are most helpful in determining the general type of lung disorder and determining the severity. Other tests, including additional chest imaging Chest Imaging Chest imaging studies include X-rays Computed tomography (CT) CT angiography Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) read more , bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a direct visual examination of the voice box (larynx) and airways through a viewing tube (a bronchoscope). A bronchoscope has a camera at the end that allows a doctor to look... read more , and thoracoscopy Thoracoscopy Thoracoscopy is the visual examination of the lung surfaces and pleural space through a viewing tube (a thoracoscope). Thoracoscopy is used to view the lung and the space surrounding the lungs... read more , allow doctors to determine the specific cause of a lung disorder.
Because heart disorders may also cause shortness of breath and other symptoms that may suggest a lung disorder and because lung disorders can affect the heart, doctors often do electrocardiography Electrocardiography Electrocardiography (ECG) is a quick, simple, painless procedure in which the heart’s electrical impulses are amplified and recorded. This record, the electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG)... read more (ECG, to measure the electrical impulses in the heart) and echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Ultrasonography uses high-frequency (ultrasound) waves bounced off internal structures to produce a moving image. It uses no x-rays. Ultrasonography of the heart (echocardiography) is one of... read more (ultrasonography of the heart) in people with these symptoms.