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At Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
For more than 40 years, doctors have been using the sweat test as the most reliable way to diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is an inherited disorder of the lungs, intestines and sweat glands. Children who have CF have higher levels of salt in their sweat than those who do not have CF. The sweat test measures the amount of salt present in the sweat. Once a child tests positive for high sweat salt levels, it will never change over his or her lifetime. Sweat salt levels also do not change with colds or other temporary illnesses, so the results are very reliable.
Most children who have sweat tests will either have normal results, showing low sweat salt levels and ruling out CF, or abnormal results, showing high sweat salt levels and are a sign of CF.
In a small number of cases, though, the sweat test results may fall into the "borderline" range and the doctor might need to repeat the sweat test or do other tests for an accurate diagnosis.
No special preparation is needed for this test, but you should make sure your child drinks or nurses in the hours before the test so he or she is well hydrated. Your child should not use any creams or lotions on the skin for 24 hours before the test. Your child may take his or her regular medications as usual on the day of the test as they will not affect the test results.
The sweat test may be done in Children’s Hospital’s Fast Track outpatient lab, in an exam room at the pulmonary clinic or in your child’s hospital room if he or she is an inpatient. A lab technologist will do your child’s test.
The most important role of a parent or guardian during the test is to help your child stay calm and relaxed. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the technologist performing the test needs to know about, please call the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
One Children’s Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
2599 Wexford Bayne Road
Sewickley, PA 15143
205 Millers Run Road
Bridgeville, PA 15017
Corporate One Office Park
4055 Monroeville Blvd.
Monroeville, PA 15146
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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