How to take a spirometry test

In this Article

  • What Is Spirometry?
  • Conditions That Spirometry Can Diagnose
  • How to Prepare for the Spirometry Test
  • How Spirometry Works
  • Spirometry Test Risks
  • Spirometry Test Results
  • Do I Need Spirometry?

What Is Spirometry?

When you’re having trouble breathing, your doctor might order a test called spirometry. Spirometry is a very common test to see how well your lungs work. Spirometry measures three things:

  1. How much air you can breathe in (inhale)
  2. How much air you can breathe out (exhale)
  3. How fast you can exhale the air from your lungs

Conditions That Spirometry Can Diagnose

Your doctor will look at your test results to figure out what may be making it hard to breathe. Common causes include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Scars in your lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)

How to Prepare for the Spirometry Test

You don’t need to do anything to prepare for spirometry, though there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t eat a big meal right before the test.
  • Ask your doctor if there are medications you should not take the day of the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.

The test itself takes about 15 minutes. It’s done in your doctor’s office, and afterward, you can go about your day as normal.

How Spirometry Works

You’ll sit in a chair and have a clip placed on your nose to keep your nostrils closed. Then, you’ll take a deep breath and exhale as quickly and hard as you can into a tube.

You’ll need to wrap your lips tightly around the tube so all your air goes into it. Usually, the test is given three times to make sure the results are the same every time.

The tube connects to a machine called a spirometer. It records how much air you breathe out from your lungs and the speed at which you exhale.

All this information helps the doctor figure out what’s causing your breathing problems.

Spirometry Test Risks

Spirometry is a painless test. Most people have no problems with it. Depending on your health, the deep breathing might make you feel a little tired or lightheaded.

If you have heart disease or have had surgery recently, check with your doctor to make sure spirometry won’t be a problem for you.

Spirometry Test Results

You might hear your doctor or a technician refer to two key measurements in spirometry. They are:

  • Forced vital capacity (FVC). This measures the amount of air you can breathe in and out.
  • Forced expiratory volume (FEV-1). This measures how much air you can exhale from your lungs in 1 second.

A doctor will look at your age, height, and gender to figure out whether your results are in the normal range. Numbers outside this range can suggest a lung problem.

В Your doctor should get a report within a few days and talk it over with you.

If the doctor thinks your airways are blocked, they may give you a medication that opens them up. It’s called a bronchodilator. After several minutes, you may take the spirometry test again to see whether the bronchodilator made a difference.

A low FEV-1 score suggests you have an obstructive airway disease such as COPD. This means your lungs can fill with air normally, but your airways are too narrow to exhale as much as they should.

If your lungs can’t fill enough, you have a restrictive lung disease.

There are several types of these conditions, but one of the most common is pulmonary fibrosis. If you have this disease, some of the tissue in your lungs has become scarred. It won’t expand when you inhale, so you can never get quite enough breath.

Do I Need Spirometry?

This is one of the most important tests for a doctor to diagnose lung disease.

If you’re having any breathing problems, talk about spirometry with your doctor. If there’s a chance you might have COPD, asthma, or some other lung condition, this test is a good first step toward getting a diagnosis.

Spirometry is also helpful in testing how well a bronchodilator or other treatment is working. You may have had spirometry testing when you were first diagnosed with asthma. A test after you’ve been taking asthma medications for a while can let you and your doctor know whether you’re on the right treatment track.

Show Sources

Mayo Clinic: “Spirometry: Definition,” “Spirometry: What can you expect,” “Spirometry: Why it’s done.”

National Health Service: “Spirometry.”

Lung Institute: “What is pulmonary fibrosis?”

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand: “What is Spirometry?”

American Lung Association: “Spirometry.”

Spirometry testing may be used not only to monitor your respiratory health but also to determine your fitness to perform specific tasks. In some instances, a spirometry test may be mandatory because of the respiratory hazards associated with your job. In other cases, your employer may choose to require spirometry testing as part of a workplace safety program.

What is a Spirometry Test?

A spirometry test is a common type of pulmonary function test that measures how well you can move air in and out of your lungs. This test measures the efficiency and effectiveness of your breathing. When taking a spirometry test, you are asked to breathe in and out through your mouth for several minutes into a mouthpiece connected to the spirometer. The results of a spirometry test are reported as your forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume (FEV-1). The FVC measure indicates the maximum amount of air that you can exhale after breathing deeply. The FEV-1 represents the amount of air that you can exhale in one second.

Your doctor can use these measurements to determine whether your breathing is restricted and how severe the problem is. Poor FEV-1 or FVC scores can be an early indicator that your pulmonary health is at risk.

Why is a Spirometry Test Important?

Not all lung damage occurs as a result of workplace exposures. Exposure to cigarette smoke, inhalation of dust or particulates, gases, or other air contaminants either on the job or in your personal environment can cause impaired lung function. Conditions such as asthma and COPD can also impair your lung function. However, by measuring your lung function via spirometry testing on a regular basis, your employer can potentially identify respiratory risks in your workplace or otherwise undetected hazardous exposures. This information allows you and your employer to take actions to protect your health before you suffer severe lung damage.

Examples of When Spirometry Testing May be Required

Requiring spirometry testing when there is a potential for respiratory harm in the workplace allows your employer to monitor your respiratory health and also to track the health of your co-workers as a group. By discovering evidence of lung damage early through regular testing, your employer can implement changes to your workplace to make it safer.

If your job is physically demanding, requires you to wear a respirator (which should be fitted with mask fit testing), or exposes you to breathing hazards, your employer may ask you to participate in a respiratory health surveillance program that includes spirometry testing. You may also be asked to participate in testing if you show signs of breathing difficulty while on the job.

Peak flow is a simple measurement of how quickly you can blow air out of your lungs. It’s often used to help diagnose and monitor asthma.

How to take a spirometry test

A peak flow test involves blowing as hard as you can into a small handheld device called a peak flow meter.

These are available on prescription or can be bought from most pharmacies.

Why peak flow is measured

By measuring how fast you’re able to breathe out, your peak flow score can indicate whether your airways are narrowed.

This could be a sign that you have asthma, although other tests such as spirometry will often be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with asthma, measuring your peak flow regularly can be a useful way of monitoring your condition.

Your score can show whether or not your condition is getting worse. It can also check if your medication is working, and indicate whether you’re having an asthma attack.

Measuring your peak flow before and after exposure to a possible asthma trigger, such as something you’re allergic to or a substance you’re exposed to at work, may also show if anything in particular causes your symptoms.

How to measure your peak flow

The first time your peak flow is measured, you’ll be taught how to do it by a doctor or nurse. After this they may advise you to carry out the test regularly at home using your own peak flow meter.

To measure your peak flow:

  • find a comfortable position, either sitting or standing
  • reset your peak flow meter so the pointer is pushed back to the first line of the scale – this is usually 60
  • hold the peak flow meter so it’s horizontal and make sure that your fingers are not obstructing the measurement scale
  • breathe in as deeply as you can and place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece
  • breathe out as quickly and as hard as you can
  • when you’ve finished breathing out, make a note of your reading

This should be repeated 3 times, and the highest of the 3 measurements should be recorded as your peak flow score.

If you’re monitoring your asthma at home, you may have a diary or chart to record your score.

Your peak flow score

Your peak flow score – also known as your peak expiratory flow (PEF) – will be displayed on the side of your peak flow meter. This is given in litres of air breathed out per minute (l/min).

What’s considered a normal score depends on your age, height and gender. Ask your GP or asthma nurse for more information on what would be considered a normal score for you.

To help diagnose asthma, your result can be compared to what would usually be expected for someone of your age, height and gender.

A significant difference between your score and a normal score, or a difference in your scores in the morning and evening or when your symptoms are good and bad, may suggest you have asthma.

If you’re monitoring your asthma at home, your score should be compared to your best result at a point when your condition was well controlled.

A big difference between your current and best score could be a sign that your condition is becoming poorly controlled or that you’re having an asthma attack.

What to do if your peak flow is low

If you have a personal asthma action plan, it might say what you should do when your peak flow score falls to a certain level.

You may just need to use one of your inhalers, or you may need to seek medical help. See treating asthma and what to do if you have an asthma attack for more information.

Speak to your GP or asthma nurse if you’ve been diagnosed with asthma and don’t have a personal action plan, or if you’re concerned about your peak flow score and don’t know what to do.

You may be given a personal action plan at your appointment that you can fill in with your doctor or nurse, or you can:

Your asthma action plan should be reviewed and updated at least once a year at your asthma review with a GP or asthma nurse.

Take your plan with you to every asthma appointment – including any A&E or consultant visits – so that if there are any changes, your plan can be updated.

Page last reviewed: 03 August 2018
Next review due: 03 August 2021

Most people who have asthma only take a spirometry (lung function test) occasionally, during a doctor’s appointment and monitor their lung condition at home with a peak flow meter. Now, however, it is possible to take a spirometry test at home, too. Follow these steps and get as reliable spirometry results as possible with KAMU Spiro!

1. Preparing for spirometry
Don’t take a spirometry if you’re ill – for example, if you have a flu, wait until you’re feeling better. If you are unsure if your condition allows you to take a spirometry test, consult your doctor first. When you decide to take a spirometry, make sure your clothes aren’t restricting your breath and that the mouthpiece of KAMU Spiro is clean and dry.

2. Take a deep breath…
Sit or stand up straight with a good posture and turn on KAMU Spiro. Inhale, taking as much air in your lungs as possible, and hold your breath. Then take the mouthpiece in your mouth and bite it lightly. Seal your lips tightly around the mouthpiece, so that all the air you blow goes through the mouthpiece.

3. …and exhale all the air out
Now, exhale all the air out of your lungs as rapidly and as forcefully as you can. Keep blowing as long as possible, to get as good a picture as possible of your lung condition. For an adult, the spirometry test should last 6 seconds – KAMU Spiro will beep at this time. At the end of the exhalation, you may feel like there’s no more air to breathe out, but there’s still a small breeze, so keep blowing in the spirometer until you hear the beep.

4. Checking your spirometry results
When you’re done with the spirometry, you’ll immediately see two values on the spirometer’s screen: your FEV1 value and a percentage showing how you performed compared to your all time best FEV1 result. In addition, the spirometer shows you the possible problems with your technique, such as exhaling too lightly or hesitating before starting the test. With this feedback, you can learn to take the spirometry better and get more reliable results.

You can view all the values that KAMU Spiro measures (FEV1, FEV6, FEV1/FEV6, FVC and PEF) when you upload the results from the spirometer to KAMU Asthma app. The results will be synchronized automatically when you pair KAMU Spiro with your smartphone. To get the most out of KAMU Asthma service, take a spirometry test at least twice a week and track your medication usage, asthma symptoms and asthma triggers daily in the app. Read more about KAMU Asthma here.

There are plenty of reasons as to why you might need to take a Spirometry test. From the diagnosis of asthma and COPD to the ongoing monitoring of a lung condition. Read on to find out 10 steps for easy spirometry testing.

There are several reasons a spirometry test might be on your agenda, from the initial diagnosis of a lung condition, to measuring the effectiveness of relevant drugs and medication.

The test itself is straightforward, fairly speedy and most importantly, painless. It usually lasts between 30-40 minutes.

You may also be surprised to learn that there are a range of spirometers used for testing.

From portable, desktop devices to larger, less portable versions.

If you need to take a Spirometry test to help diagnosis a lung condition or manage an existing one, read this helpful step by step guide to show you just how easy it is to achieve.

To make it even easier, these steps have been split into 4 easy to digest sections:

1. Do not undertake any activities which could impact your normal lung function

Before you even get to the doctor’s office to undertake the test, there are certain things you should avoid doing just hours before.

★ This is to ensure that you get the most accurate results ★

вћ” Speak with your doctor beforehand to work out which medications to avoid prior to the test.

вћ” Don’t smoke or drink alcohol within 24 hours.

вћ” Make sure not to overexert yourself just before the test takes place. In this case, you should avoid strenuous exercise or activity 30 minutes before.

Make sure to wear loose fitting clothing, so that your breathing isn’t restricted.

2. Make the doctor aware of your habits and medical history

If you smoke, tell your doctor. They will also ask for your medical history. It’s important to make your healthcare professional aware of this, as a history of wheezing, chronic coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath are key symptoms for consideration once your results are ready for analysis.

3. Pay close attention to the spirometry demonstration

В«efore the Spirometry test is performed, the spirometry equipment will be calibrated. Once this is done, you will be shown how to blow into the spirometer. As you watch the demonstration conducted by the doctor or asthma nurse, ensure to look closely at the way they breathe in and out as you will be required to repeat this in your test. They may also highlight a couple of breathing techniques for you to use.

Preparing For The Test

4. Sit comfortably and relax

When you are ready to be tested, take a seat in the most comfortable way for you. You will usually be fitted with a clip on your nose to aid effective breathing.

Continue breathing normally through your mouth and close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.

5. Breathe in and out

вћ” Take a deep full breath in, so that your lungs are completely filled with air.

вћ” Exhale as quickly and forcefully as you can, making sure to empty your lungs fully. Picture yourself trying to get as much air out of your lungs as quickly as you possibly can.

This is important so that you gain an accurate measurement of the volume expelled within the first vital second. This is also known as the forced expiratory volume, or FEV1.

6. Continue to breathe out

You’ll need to make sure to carry on exhaling until you feel that no more air can physically come out.

Once you have finished the exhale, it should feel as though your lungs and throat are near enough empty. It is crucial to force all of the air out to gain another accurate measurement.

This time it will be for how much air exhaled in one whole breath, known as forced vital capacity, or FVC.

7. Breathe in the usual way, in between attempts

Due to the forced breaths and need to fully inhale and exhale, the Spirometry test can make you feel lightheaded. In this case, it’s important to take your time and breathe in a normal way when you can as a way to avoid being too dizzy. Ask for water if you need to.

Spirometry Test Overview

How to take a spirometry test

Spirometry is a test to see how well your lungs work. It does this by measuring how much air goes in and how much goes out as you breathe. It shows how well you can fill your lungs and how quickly you can exhale that air. The test uses a device called a spirometer.

The info that follows is meant to give you a better understanding of what the test is and how it’s used. It also explains what it might mean for you someday.

Why Would I Need Spirometry?

Spirometry helps your doctor figure out the cause of symptoms like long-term cough or shortness of breath. Along with other tests, it helps diagnose conditions such as:

  • Asthma
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) — conditions, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and certain types of asthma, in which shortness of breath increases over time
  • Interstitial lung diseases (ILD) — conditions, including pulmonary fibrosis, in which a buildup of scar tissue in the lungs makes it hard to breathe

If you have a lung disease, doctors can use spirometry to test changes in your lung function over time. This shows whether your condition is getting better with treatment.

Your doctor might also use spirometry to:

  • Help select treatments for your lung condition
  • Check how well inhaled medicines might work for you
  • Look for early signs of narrowing airways or lung scarring
  • See whether you’ve breathed in a harmful substance
  • Check if your lungs are strong enough to handle a surgery you may need

How Should I Prepare for a Spirometry Test?

Spirometry is a quick test in your doctor’s office or a lung clinic. Before your test, you’ll take these steps to make sure you’re comfortable during the exam and that you get accurate results:

  • Ask your doctor if there are any medicines you should skip and for how long.
  • Don’t use a short-acting inhaler for 6 to 8 hours before the test.
  • Don’t smoke for 1 hour or drink alcoholic beverages for 4 hours before your test.
  • Don’t eat a large meal for 2 hours beforehand.
  • Don’t do any vigorous activity for a half hour before the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to take deep breaths.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve had any of the following serious health problems. She may want to cancel or delay your test until you’re better:

  • Heart attack in the past month
  • Recent eye, chest, or abdominal surgery
  • Collapsed lung
  • Tuberculosis

How Is a Spirometry Test Performed?

Spirometry only takes about a half hour to 45 minutes to complete. You’ll sit upright for the whole test.

First, the technician will place a clip on your nose. This helps you breathe through your mouth.

Then, you will clamp your lips around the plastic mouthpiece connected to the spirometer. Follow the technician’s instructions on how to breathe. You’ll inhale as deeply as you can then exhale as quickly and forcefully as you can. Use as much energy and effort as possible when you breathe in and out. That gets the most accurate results. You’ll repeat this breathing exercise at least three times.

Your technician may give you a medication called a bronchodilator. It opens your airways. About 15 minutes later, you will do the breathing test again to see if there are any changes in your results. Comparing the results before and after you take a bronchodilator will show whether this medicine helps you.

During the test, some people feel lightheaded or dizzy, cough, or feel chest tightness. If you feel uncomfortable, tell the technician.

You may also feel a little lightheaded or tired after spirometry. Some people cough a little. These effects should go away very quickly so you can get back to your normal activities.

After the test is over, you can get back on your regular medication schedule.

What Are Normal Levels for a Spirometry Test?

Spirometry results show how your lung function compares to that of someone your age, height, and sex with normal, healthy lungs. Results include these measurements:

  • FEV: Forced expiratory volume is the percentage of air you can exhale from your lungs in a forced breath. You get results for each of the three breaths you take on the test: FEV1, FEV2, and FEV3. People with normal, healthy lungs can exhale 80% or more of the air from their lungs. Lower than normal FEV means something is blocking your airways.
  • FVC: Forced vital capacity is the total amount of air you exhaled during the FEV test. A lower than normal FVC means something is restricting your breathing.

For both FVC and FEV, here’s what lower than normal scores may suggest:

  • Mild lung condition: 70% to 79%
  • Moderate lung condition: 60% to 69%
  • Severe lung disease: Less than 60%

FVC/FEV-1: Spirometry also takes these two scores and calculates your FVC/FEV-1 ratio. This tells you the percentage of your lung’s air space that you can exhale in one second. Normal results are 70% or more for adults under 65.

FVC/FEV-1 ratios below normal help your doctor rate the severity of your lung condition:

  • Mild lung condition: 60% to 69%
  • Moderate lung condition: 50% to 59%
  • Severe lung condition: Less than 50%

What Happens After You Get The Results?

Once you have your results, your doctor may prescribe treatment for your lung condition. You might need to repeat spirometry later to track how you’re doing.

Your doctor can set goals for your treatment based on ongoing spirometry results.

(c)2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Mayo Clinic: “Spirometry,” “Interstitial Lung Disease.”

American Lung Association: “Spirometry.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Spirometry.”

Lung Association of Canada: “Spirometry.”

American Family Physician: “An Approach to Interpreting Spirometry.”

United Steel Workers Worker Health Protection Program: “Understanding Your Breathing Test Results.”

Lung Procedures, Tests & Treatments

What Is Spirometry and Why It Is Done

Spirometry is the most common type of pulmonary function or breathing test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs, as well as how easily and fast you can the blow the air out of your lungs.

Your doctor may order spirometry if you have wheezing, shortness of breath, or a cough. This can help diagnose problems like asthma and COPD, or can be done to check lung function before a surgery. You may also have spirometry done if you are being treated for a chronic lung disease, such as COPD, asthma, or pulmonary fibrosis, to determine if your disease is improving or worsening and whether your medications or inhalers are working properly. Spirometry can be done in the doctor’s office or in a special pulmonary function testing lab.

What to Expect

On the day of the test, you may be asked to not use certain inhalers or medications. Wear loose clothing and avoid big meals before testing.
These tests are not painful. They are performed by a pulmonary function technician. The tests are repeated several times to make sure the results are accurate. When performing the test, keep the following in mind:

  • You should take your daily medications prior to testing unless told otherwise.
  • Do not smoke for at least six hours prior to testing.
  • If you are taking a short-acting inhaler that is used only as needed, do not use for six to eight hours prior to testing, if possible.
  • Your doctor may give you other instructions regarding medications.

During the test, you will be sitting upright. A clip is placed on your nose and you will be given a plastic mouthpiece connected to the spirometry machine. You will place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece and be asked to take in as big and deep a breath as possible and then blow out as hard and fast as you can. This maximal effort is very important, and testing will be repeated at least three times to get the best results.

The technician may give you a medicine to help open your airways and then repeat the test to see if your breathing improves with the medicine. The testing takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Understanding the Results and What Happens Next

Spirometry will give your doctor information about why you may have a cough, shortness of breath, or noisy breathing and help diagnose certain lung problems. After the test, you can return to your normal daily activities.

Normal values are calculated based on age, height and gender. If a value is abnormal, a lung problem may be present. Sometimes a patient with normal lungs may have a breathing test value that is abnormal. Your doctor will explain what your test results mean. Depending on the results of the test, your doctor may prescribe inhalers or medicines to help improve your lung function. The testing may be repeated at future visits to monitor your lung function.

What Are the Risks and When It Should Not Be Done?

During the test, breathing fast and hard can make you feel tired, cough, feel dizzy or light-headed, or have chest tightness or pain. You should let the technician know if you have any discomfort.

You should let your doctor know if you’ve had a heart attack within the past month. You should also tell your doctor if you have had recent eye, chest or abdominal surgery, have had a collapsed lung or have tuberculosis. If you’ve had any of these, your doctor may wait until you recover before doing the testing.

Special steps are taken to avoid spreading germs between patients who use the same lung function equipment. The technician will change mouthpieces and other equipment between patients. Special filters are also used to prevent the spread of germs.

Be sure to ask if you have any questions before the test is started.

By Editorial Team

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Spirometry is a common test to see how well your lungs work. It measures how much air you inhale and exhale over a specific amount of time. Doctors often use it to diagnose asthma and other breathing conditions.

Results from spirometry can help doctors monitor your asthma. They can also help see if asthma drugs are helping you breathe better.

What is spirometry?

Spirometry is the recommended test to diagnose asthma and other breathing conditions. It is a type of lung function test. It helps doctors measure your breathing to diagnose and monitor asthma. 1

Spirometry can give different types of information to help doctors diagnose and treat asthma. For example, spirometry can be done: 2

  • To confirm an asthma diagnosis
  • To see if asthma drugs are working
  • To see how lung function changes after exercise, allergen exposure, or taking methacholine (an inhaled drug that causes narrowing of the airways in the lungs)
  • To see how your lung function has changed over time

Before the test, a nurse or doctor will give you instructions. Ask them if you do not understand anything. During the test, you will sit and breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a spirometer. A clip on your nose will keep your nostrils closed. You will then take a deep breath before exhaling as hard and quickly as possible. 3,4

You may repeat this several times to get an accurate measurement. The whole process usually takes less than 15 minutes. Your doctor may then give you a bronchodilator (an inhaled drug to open your airways) and repeat the test after 15 minutes. 3

How does spirometry help diagnose and monitor asthma?

Spirometry provides 3 main results that help diagnose and monitor asthma: 5

  • Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) – How much air you can forcefully exhale in 1 second
  • Forced vital capacity (FVC) – The maximum amount of air you can forcefully exhale
  • FEV1/FVC ratio – How much of your total air capacity you can forcefully exhale in 1 second

The results are given in percentages compared to normal values for someone your age, height, weight, gender, and race. For example, an FEV1 or FVC above 80 percent is normal. If your results are normal, you may do spirometry again after a challenge test. This can diagnose exercise-induced or allergen-induced asthma. 2,6

A low FEV1 or FEV1/FVC means you have difficulty getting air out of the lungs. This is a sign of an obstructed airway, which could result from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If your FEV1 increases after taking a bronchodilator (usually albuterol), then your airway blockage is reversible. This is a sign of asthma. 3,5

The percentages can also tell you how severe or well-controlled your asthma is. An FEV1 of less than 60 percent often means your asthma is severe or poorly controlled. Based on the results, your doctor can suggest whether you should increase or decrease your asthma drugs. 2,6

What are the possible side effects of spirometry?

Spirometry is a safe and non-invasive procedure. However, the test can be tiring and uncomfortable. Ask your doctor for a break between repetitions if you need rest. Some potential side effects of the test include: 4

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Other things to know about spirometry

Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for the test. They may ask you to: 4

  • Wear comfortable and loose clothing
  • Avoid vigorous exercise and large meals before the test
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol before the test
  • Stop taking certain medicines before the test

Before taking a spirometry test, tell your doctor if you have any heart conditions. 2,5

You may need to do spirometry tests at least every 1 to 2 years. This can help see how lung function changes over time. Your doctor may also have you do spirometry whenever you start a new treatment or symptoms worsen. Pregnant women with asthma may do a spirometry test at every prenatal visit. 2

What Is Spirometry?

Spirometry is also called a pulmonary function test. The device used to carry out the test is called a Spirometer or a Flow Meter.

It is a means to assess the integrated mechanical functioning of the lungs, respiratory muscles, and chest wall. This is done by measuring the total volume of air exhaled (Total Lung Capacity – TLC) to maximal expiration (Residual Volume – RV).

When To Do A Spirometry Test?

It is a valuable diagnostic and prognostic tool that can be used for the following purposes

  1. Early detection of airflow obstruction.
  2. Diagnosis of respiratory disorders in patients by evaluating results. The pattern of volume loop created points to the type of respiratory disorder but not the exact disease.
  3. Monitoring patient’s response to the treatment and course of respiratory illness.
  4. A guide to the further course of treatment and medical intervention.
  5. Investigation of non-respiratory diseases which may impact lung function.
    Example: Connective tissue disorders and neuromuscular diseases.
  6. Screening or evaluation of persons at high risk for respiratory diseases
    Example: Environmental or occupational exposure to radiation, asbestos, silica
  7. Preoperative risk evaluation prior to lung resection and cardiothoracic surgeries.
  8. Following lung transplant to detect signs of acute rejection, infection and obliterative bronchiolitis (chronic organ rejection).
  9. Evaluation of respiratory status before strenuous physical activity.
  10. Spirometry should ideally be performed regularly in persons above the age of 35 years with a history of cigarette smoking.
  11. Spirometry can effectively differentiate between psychosomatic and organic respiratory disorders.
  12. Spirometry can be performed in acute respiratory infections such as tuberculosis only if the risk of cross-contamination becomes negligible.

Persistence Of The Following Signs And Symptoms Are An Indication For A Spirometry Test

  • A cough
  • Wheezing or crackles
  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Abnormal chest x-ray

How To Do A Spirometry Test?

  • The spirometry test is a relatively simple and quick procedure.
  • It is to be performed in a sitting position with head slightly elevated or slightly leaned back.
  • The nurse or technician will place the mouthpiece of the spirometer.
  • The patient is asked to inhale rapidly and completely followed by forceful exhalation for as rapidly and as long as possible.
  • Patients should not lean forward during the test.
  • The patient should exhale for at least 6 seconds.
  • This forceful inhalation and exhalation may have to be repeated for up to 4-5 times (maximum 8 number of times).

Spirometry Test Preparation

Patients Are Supposed To Observe The Below-Mentioned Guidelines Before A Spirometry Test As They Can Impact Test Results

  • Patients are advised to not smoke at least an hour prior to the test.
  • Patients reporting for the test should ensure that they do not eat a large meal at least 2 hours prior to the test.
  • Patients should not consume alcohol at least 4 hours before reporting for the test.
  • Patients should avoid vigorous exercises at least an hour before the test.
  • Adequate care should be taken to avoid tight clothing when going for the test.
  • Patients using false teeth can use it during the test unless it interferes while performing the test.
  • Patients are usually explained about the test.
  • Height and weight are measured before beginning the test.

Some Patients May Experience The Following Signs And Symptoms Due to Repeating The Test

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • A headache
  • Fainting
  • Transient urinary incontinence

Spirometry Test Results And Interpretation

Interpretation of spirometry test results depends entirely upon the test quality and how effectively it is performed by patients. A test which fails to meet the standard guidelines can yield unreliable results. The American Thoracic Society has laid down few guidelines for an acceptable spirometry test which includes

  • Should start from full inflation
  • Shows minimal hesitation at the start of forced expiration
  • Shows an explosive start of the forced expiration
  • Shows no evidence of a cough in the first second of forced expiration.
  • There is no leak at the mouth
  • No spirometry or test result can be rejected solely on the basis of poor repeatability.
  • Meets one of the following three criteria that define a valid end-of-test (EOT criteria):
    ➢ The patient cannot or should not continue further exhalation. Patients can terminate expiration if they experience discomfort.
    ➢ The volume-time curve shows no change for more than 1 second and the person has tried to exhale for >/= 3 seconds or more in children less than 10 years of age and for >/= 6 seconds for patients above the age of 10 years.
    ➢ If the test fails to exhibit an expiratory plateau.
    A final test report is generated for evaluation if the test meets the above-mentioned test quality parameters.

Spirometry Results Are Expressed As Graph Of Measure Of Volume Against Time. The First Graph Can Be Interpreted As Follows

  1. Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) – The volume of air that can be exhaled forcefully after maximal inhalation.FVC is less than 3 seconds in normal people.FVC is prolonged in patients with obstructive lung diseases.
  2. FEV1 – The volume of air exhaled in the first second of FVC.Normal persons can exhale up to 75 – 80% of FVC during the first second.The ration of FEV1/FVC helps to determine the type of lung disease.
  3. Forced Expiratory Flow (FEF) – Flow of air coming out of the lungs during the middle portion of forced expiration.FEF can be 25 – 75% in normal persons (FEF25-75%).A second graph is called the volume loop. In a volume loop, the part of the curve below baseline indicates inspiration and the curve above baseline indicates expiration.

This Graph Can Be Interpreted As Follows

  1. Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) – It is the speed during maximal forced expiration after complete inhalation.
    PEF is measured in liter per second. PEF of a normal person is 80 – 100%.
  2. Tidal Volume (TV) – It is the amount of air inhaled and exhaled during normal breathing.

Dr. Himanshi is a Homoeopathic consultant and currently working as a lecturer in Post-graduate faculty of Homeopathy, Parul University, Vadodara. Completed BHMS and MD in Homeopathy in January 2018 and also has a clinical experience of about 6 years. Personal interests include reading, spending time with family and traveling.

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As a valuable tool in the diagnosis of various lung conditions, from Asthma and COPD to Emphysema and Cystic Fibrosis, Spirometry Testing is on the rise. What are 4 important reasons for taking this type of test?

Spirometry testing is a valuable tool when it comes to lung condition evaluation.

Spirometry testing, also known as also referred to as “pulmonary function testing” can benefit a number of people, such as:

вњ… People with Asthma

вњ… People with COPD

вњ… Those who are over 40 and smoke or used to smoke

вњ… Anyone exposed to lung-harming substances in the workplace – such as chemical fumes – should consider the use of this type of test as well.

Who should have Spirometry testing?

1. Spirometry is an important database and key tool in diagnosing lung conditions

When a patient receives spirometry results which are seen as ‘ normal’, this indicates a high likelihood of long-time survival.

Those with abnormal spirometry results? The opposite is true, producing a less than desirable prognosis.

This is where a simple spirometry measure provides a crucial database for both the primary care physician and the specialist healthcare professional. By possessing the knowledge of a patient’s previous spirometry values, a baseline has already been established for any future comparison.

It is also a key tool when it comes to the identification of various conditions and diseases. When a doctor is looking to prescribe anti inflammatory medication, such as Inhaled corticosteroids and Oral steroids, this type of test is a helpful aid.

Spirometry can determine asthma from COPD on the analysis of airflow and the use of bronchodilators and corticosteroids.

It is also crucial in the diagnosis of acute and chronic airflow obstruction and in the ongoing monitoring of such debilitating conditions.

And here are 4 very beneficial reasons to take a Spirometry test…

One of the main benefits of spirometry testing is that it can detect abnormalities in lung function even when no signs or symptoms of disease seem to be showing up.

How so?

Take a look at someone who smoke cigarettes daily, but does not present with chest tightness or shortness of breath. This particular patient may well show extremely mild issues with airflow obstruction.

In this case, the spirometry test works like a detective, to help pick up any obstructive disease ahead of the onset of symptoms. This means that any necessary treatment can be introduced at an earlier stage.

However, it is also a valid test in terms of identifying a medical diagnosis when signs or symptoms of disease have made themselves known.

This can be the case with wheezing, chronic coughing and shortness of breath. If decreased airflow is detected in conjunction with any one of these symptoms, this could show the prevalence of asthma. Spirometry is also used as a way to monitor the effectiveness of prescribed medication and restore normal airflow.

2. It can detect abnormalities in lung function even when no signs or symptoms of disease are evident

An effective way to look at the effect of smoking on lung function is the concept of lung age, a clever presentation of spirometry results. This is the age of an average healthy person with similar spirometry results, rather than as forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1).

This age is obtained upon matching an individual’s FEV1 value with the age at which that value is considered normal based on predicted values. An example of lung age is explained in this particular study, which leads neatly onto the next reason for taking a spirometry test.

3. Spirometry determines lung age

There is a powerful link between spirometric abnormalities and smoking-related diseases.

Whenever spirometric abnormalities are found in a smoker, it makes sense that the overall goal is to find a way to stop smoking, otherwise the condition could get much worse.

There have been various studies showcasing the link between smoking and the onset and worsening of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.

According to the World Health Organisation – WHO, it is estimated that 80 million people in the world have moderate to severe COPD.

Combined with the statistics estimating that by 2030 it will become the third leading cause of death worldwide, this chronic disease could be lessened with the help of smoking cessation.

4. Spirometry can be a powerful tool in the fight against stopping smoking

Some studies have shown that the use of such a test can be a motivational tool when it comes to helping its patients quit smoking, with one finding significantly improved quit rates when patients who smoked were given their office spirometry results in terms of the aforementioned “lung age”.

Reporting spirometry results in terms of lung age may spur patients to put down the cigarettes.

So, spirometry can be used as a handy aid and as a way to diagnose and manage many different types of lung disease. If you have questions relating to your lung health, it’s always a good idea to speak to make an appointment and speak with your doctor about spirometry.

The earlier spirometry is carried out, the earlier any potential conditions or disease can be diagnosed and subsequently treated and managed.

There are copious amounts of treatments available to help Asthma and COPD sufferers manage and reduce their symptoms. Not only does this help to stop your lung disease from worsening but it can also help to avoid scary and potentially life-threatening exacerbations and make your daily life one that is more positive.

So, make sure you offer your lungs some appreciation and go and get yourself tested using spirometry, all in the comfort of your doctor’s office.

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As one of the largest Pulmonary Function Labs in Southern California we provide a large array of Pulmonary Function Tests.

Pulmonary Function Tests are a diagnostic tool used for detecting, characterizing and quantifying the severity of lung disease. Routine testing may also be done to monitor the course of disease and also response to treatment and medication in chronic patients. The PFT testing population is Pediatrics (5 years and above) through Geriatrics, as well as testing for our large Lung Transplant population.

Other indications for testing include:

  • Assessing the potential effects or response to environmental or occupational exposure
  • Assessing the risk for surgical procedures known to affect lung function
  • Assessing for impairment and or disability

We have specially trained Respiratory Therapists working in our Pulmonary Function Lab. Many of them are recognized by the National Board for Respiratory Care as Certified or Registered Pulmonary Function Technologists. They perform various tests including spirometry, lung volumes, diffusing capacity, bronchodilator challenge, methacholine challenge, and maximal pressures to asses lung function, the 6 minute walk test, ambulatory oxygen studies, certification and recertification for oxygen usage, exercise induced bronchospasm studies, shunt studies, high altitude simulation test, cardiopulmonary exercise test, indirect calorimetry studies, overnight oximetry studies, arterial blood gases, and co-oximetry. For lung volume testing, we offer three different methods: Body Plethysmography, Helium Dilution, and Nitrogen Washout.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Pulmonary Function Laboratory

Our State of the Art equipment is completely integrated into CareConnect (our electronic medical records system) and all testing is immediately posted to the patient’s chart and sent for interpretation by one of our pulmonologists.

During the testing the patient sits in a chair and performs various breathing tests via a mouthpiece into the analyzer. Testing time can vary depending upon which test is ordered, testing may take anywhere from 30 minutes up 2 hours. Exercise testing may take a little longer due to set up time.

To prepare for your pulmonary function test, follow these instructions:

  • No bronchodilator medication for four hours
  • No smoking for four hours before the test
  • No heavy meals
  • Do not wear any tight clothing, for exercise testing please wear a shirt that buttons up from the front and comfortable shoes
  • The complete pulmonary function test takes around one and a half hours
  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment to register

Eric Kleerup, MD
Medical Director,
Pulmonary Function Lab at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Westwood Location

Westwood Pulmonary Function Lab
200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 302
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Map & directions »

To schedule an appointment for a Pulmonary Function Test, please call our centralized appointment desk (310) 794-9721.

UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica Pulmonary Function Laboratory

The patient or the patient’s physician office contacts the Pulmonary Function Laboratory to set up an appointment. During the testing the patient sits in a chair and performs various breathing tests via a mouthpiece into the analyzer. Testing time can vary depending upon which test is ordered, testing may take anywhere from 30 minutes up 2 hours. After the test is completed the results are immediately sent to the ordering physician for interpretation.

To prepare for your pulmonary function test, follow these instructions:

  • No bronchodilator medication for four hours
  • No smoking for four hours before the test
  • No heavy meals
  • Do not wear any tight clothing
  • The complete pulmonary function test takes around one and a half hours
  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment to register at the Outpatient Admissions office on the ground floor of the hospital, Room G314.
  • After registering, you will be directed to a waiting room

How to take a spirometry test

Santa Monica Location

Santa Monica Pulmonary Function Lab
1250 16th Street, Room G314
Santa Monica, Ca 90404
Get map & directions »

To schedule an appointment for a Pulmonary Function Test, please call our centralized appointment desk at (310) 794-9721.

Gerard Frank, MD
Medical Director,
UCLA Respiratory Care Services & Pulmonary Function Lab at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center

By Editorial Team

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Breathing tests play a key role in finding out if a person has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These tests can also be used to find out the stage of a person’s COPD. These tests are called lung function tests or pulmonary function tests. 1,2

Lung function tests are used to measure how well your lungs are working. People with COPD have lungs that do not work as well as they should, so these tests give doctors the information they need to diagnose and treat COPD. 1,2

Doctors often use these types of lung function tests when diagnosing COPD: 2

  • Spirometry test
  • Lung volume test
  • Lung diffusion capacity test

What to expect from lung function tests

These tests are not painful or invasive. Some people may feel lightheaded afterward because of heavy breathing. The test may be repeated a few times to make sure you had an accurate reading, but overall, the process does not take long. After the test, you can go back to normal activities. 2

Your doctor may give you instructions before the test such as not smoking or using a rescue inhaler in the 6 hours before the test. You may also get specific instructions depending on the other medicines you take. After the test, your results are compared to what is normal for your age, gender, or height. If your results are abnormal, it may be a sign of a breathing problem. 2

Spirometry test

Spirometry is the most basic of the tests. It is also the test most commonly used to diagnose COPD. A spirometry test measures how well the lungs work while exhaling by measuring 2 things: 3

  • How much air you can breathe out
  • How fast you can breathe out

During the spirometry test, you will have a clip placed on your nose, and you will be seated at a machine with a mouthpiece. You will be asked to take the biggest breath you can and then blow it out as fast as possible into the mouthpiece. 3

The results of the spirometry test will show if the air leaving your lungs is obstructed. This could be a sign of COPD or some other kind of respiratory problem. If you do have COPD, the results can help figure out what stage of COPD it is. 3

Lung volume test

A lung volume test is similar to a spirometry test. It is sometimes called a body plethysmography test. This test measures 2 things: 4

  • The largest amount of air your lungs can take in while inhaling
  • How much air is left in your lungs after fully exhaling

During the test, you will be asked to sit in a clear, airtight box that is about the size of a phone booth. You will need to breathe in and out through a tube. The person giving you the test will measure changes in the air pressure in the box you sit in. These changes in pressure help determine the amount of air in your lungs while you breathe. 4

Lung diffusion capacity test

A lung diffusion capacity test measures how good your lungs are at getting oxygen from the air you breathe into your blood. During the test, you will breathe in a small amount of a harmless gas, called a tracer gas. The concentration of that gas in the air you exhale is measured. The difference in the amount of the gas you inhaled and exhaled is calculated. 4

This result shows how well your lungs can move gas into your blood. If you exhale a great deal of the tracer gas, it is a sign your lungs may not be absorbing enough oxygen. This could be a sign of COPD. 4

Last Updated 05/11/2020

Authors: Lana Alghothani, MD; Ellen Becker, PhD, RRT, RPFT, AE-C, FAARC; Nitin Bhatt, MD; De De Gardner, DrPH, RRT, FCCP; Mary Hart, RRT, MS

How to take a spirometry test

About Spirometry Tests

Spirometry is the most common type of breathing or pulmonary function test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs, as well as how easily and fast you can blow the air out of your lungs.

Your health care provider may do a spirometry test if you have symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, or a cough. This test can help diagnose problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can also be done to check lung function before a surgery.

If you have a lung condition, spirometry may be done to determine if your condition is getting better or worse. The results help health care providers determine whether your medications are helping you. Spirometry can be done in the provider’s office or in a special pulmonary function testing lab.

What to expect

On the day of your test, you may be asked not to use certain inhalers or medications. Wear loose-fitting clothing, and avoid big meals before testing.

These tests are not painful. They are performed by a pulmonary function technologist. The tests are repeated several times to make sure the results are accurate. On the day of your test:

  • Take your daily medications prior to testing unless told otherwise.
  • Do not smoke for at least 6 hours before your test.
  • If you use a quick-reliever inhaler as needed, do not use it for 6 to 8 hours before your test, if possible.
  • Follow all instructions your health care provider gave you.

During the test, you will be sitting. A clip may be placed on your nose, and you are given a plastic or cardboard mouthpiece connected to the spirometry machine. You place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece. Then you will be asked to take in as big and deep a breath as possible and blow out as hard and fast as you can. This maximum effort is very important. Testing will be repeated at least three times to get the best and most consistent results.

The technologist may give you a medicine to help open your airways and repeat the test to see if the medication improves your breathing.

The testing takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

How to take a spirometry test

Understanding the results

Spirometry will give your health care provider information about why you may have a cough, shortness of breath, or noisy breathing. It will also help diagnose certain lung problems. After the test, you can return to your normal daily activities.

Normal values are calculated based on your age, height, race, and gender. If a value is abnormal, a lung problem may be present. Sometimes, a person with healthy lungs may have a breathing test value that is abnormal. Your provider will explain what your test results mean.

Depending on the results of the test, your provider may prescribe inhalers or other medicines to help improve your breathing. The testing may be repeated at future visits to monitor your breathing condition.

What are the risks?

During the test, breathing fast and hard can make you feel tired, dizzy, or light-headed; cause coughing; or lead to chest tightness or pain. Tell the technologist if you have any discomfort.

Tell your provider if you have:

  • Had a heart attack within the past month
  • Had recent eye, chest, or abdominal surgery
  • A collapsed lung
  • Tuberculosis

If you had any of these, your provider may wait until you recover before doing the testing.

Equipment safety

Special steps are taken to avoid spreading germs between patients who use the same lung function equipment. The technologist will change mouthpieces and clean the equipment between patients. Special filters are also used to prevent the spread of germs.

If you have questions about this test, ask before the test starts.

When you need the test—and why

Spirometry is a simple breathing test. It measures how much air flows in and out of your lungs. If you have symptoms that could be a sign of asthma—like shortness of breath—you should have a spirometry test. Here’s why:

Asthma and other diseases can have the same symptoms.

When you have asthma, the lining of the airways in the lungs swells and the muscles around the airways get tight. Then the airways get narrow.

When you breathe, you have trouble moving air out of your lungs. As a result, you may cough, wheeze, feel short of breath, or have tightness in your chest. Exercise or cold air may make the symptoms worse.

However, those same symptoms can also be a sign of other lung problems, such as a common cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia. They can even be symptoms of heart disease and other diseases.

It is important to know the cause of your symptoms to make sure you get the right treatment. The treatment for asthma is very different from the treatment for pneumonia or heart disease.

Spirometry helps diagnose and manage asthma.

A spirometry test can confirm whether you have asthma or another disease. And it helps your healthcare provider decide on your treatment. A spirometry test can also show how well your treatment is working. If follow-up spirometry tests show that your asthma is well controlled, your treatment is working. If it shows that your asthma is not under control, your doctor may need to change your medicine or give you more medicine.

Skipping the test has risks.

Many people who need a spirometry test never have one. Some healthcare providers only rely on symptoms to decide whether a patient has asthma or another disease.

If your doctor assumes you have asthma without giving you a spirometry test, you could be taking asthma drugs when you don’t need them. And the real cause of your symptoms would not be treated.

On the other hand, you and your doctor might assume the cause of your symptoms is a mild problem, when in fact it is asthma. If your asthma is not treated, you could have severe asthma attacks. About nine people die from asthma attacks every day in the U.S. Untreated or poorly managed asthma can also cause scarring in the lungs, which can lead to COPD. Once the lungs are scarred, asthma medicines won’t work as well.

The test can save money.

A spirometry test generally costs less than $100. Not having the test can cost a lot more money. If the test shows that you do not have asthma, this can save you hundreds of dollars a month for asthma medicines. If you do not have the test and you have asthma, an emergency room visit for an asthma attack can cost thousands of dollars.

When should you have a spirometry test?

Children older than age five, and adults of any age, who have asthma-like symptoms should have a spirometry test. The healthcare provider should also do a physical exam and a full medical history. If the test shows that you have asthma, your doctor should prescribe asthma medicine. Then you should be retested four to six weeks later. If your test results improve, your treatment is working. You may even be able to take less medicine. If your symptoms get worse, you should have another spirometry test. If your symptoms are controlled, you should have a test at least once every year or two.

This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

© 2016 Consumer Reports. Developed in cooperation with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

What are lung function tests?

Lung function tests, also known as pulmonary function tests, or PFTs, are a group of tests that check to see if your lungs are working right. The tests look for:

  • How much air your lungs can hold
  • How well you move air in and out of your lungs
  • How well the lungs move oxygen into your bloodstream. Your blood cells need oxygen to grow and stay healthy.

There are several types of lung function tests. They include:

  • Spirometry. the most common type of lung function test. It measures how much and how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs.
  • Lung volume test. also known as body plethysmography. This test measures the amount of air you can hold in your lungs and the amount of air that remains after you exhale (breathe out) as much as you can.
  • Gas diffusion test. This test measures how oxygen and other gases move from the lungs to the bloodstream.
  • Exercise stress test. This test looks at how exercise affects lung function.

These tests may be used together or by themselves, depending on your specific symptoms or condition.

Other names: pulmonary function tests, PFTs

What are they used for?

Lung function tests are often used to:

  • Find the cause of breathing problems
  • Diagnose and monitor chronic lung diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema
  • See if lung disease treatments are working
  • Check lung function before surgery
  • Check whether exposure to chemicals or other substances in the home or workplace have caused lung damage

Why do I need a lung function test?

You may need this test if you:

  • Have symptoms of a breathing problem such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and/or coughing
  • Have a chronic lung disease
  • Have been exposed to asbestos or other substances known to cause lung damage
  • Have scleroderma, a disease that damages connective tissue
  • Have sarcoidosis, a disease that causes damage to cells around the lungs, liver, and other organs
  • Have a respiratory infection
  • Had an abnormal chest x-ray
  • Are scheduled for an operation such as abdominal or lung surgery

What happens during lung function testing?

Below are the steps for the most common types of lung function tests.

For a spirometry test:

  • You’ll sit in a chair and a soft clip will be put on your nose. This is done so you’ll breathe through your mouth, rather than your nose.
  • You’ll be given a mouthpiece that is attached to a machine called a spirometer.
  • You’ll place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece, and breathe in and out as instructed by your provider.
  • The spirometer will measure the amount and rate of air flow over a period of time.

For a lung volume (body plethysmography) test:

  • You’ll sit in a clear, airtight room that looks like a telephone booth.
  • As with a spirometry test, you’ll wear a nose clip and place your lips around a mouthpiece connected to a machine.
  • You’ll breathe in and breathe out as instructed by your provider.
  • The pressure changes inside the room help measure lung volume.

For a gas diffusion test:

  • You’ll wear a mouthpiece connected to a machine.
  • You will be asked to inhale (breathe in) a very small, nondangerous amount of carbon monoxide or other type of gas.
  • Measurements will either be taken as you breathe in or as you breathe out.
  • The test can show how effective your lungs are in moving gases to your bloodstream.

For an exercise test, you will:

  • Ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill.
  • You’ll be attached to monitors and machines that will measure blood oxygen, blood pressure, and heartbeat.
  • This helps show how well your lungs perform during exercise.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the tests?

To prepare for a lung function test, you’ll need to take some steps to ensure your breathing is normal and unrestricted. These include:

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before the test.
  • Avoid food or drinks with caffeine.
  • Don’t smoke or do heavy exercise for six hours before the test.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • If you wear dentures, you’ll need to wear them during the test. They can help you form a tight seal around the mouthpiece.

Are there any risks to the tests?

There is very little risk to having a lung function test. Some people may feel lightheaded or dizzy during the procedure. Also, some people may feel claustrophobic during a lung volume test. If you have questions or concerns about the tests, talk to your health care provider.

What do the results mean?

If any of your lung function test results were not normal, it may mean you have a lung disease. There are two main types of lung diseases that can be diagnosed with a lung function test:

  • Obstructive diseases. These diseases cause airways to become narrow, making it hard for air to flow out of the lungs. Obstructive lung diseases include asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.
  • Restrictive diseases.В In these diseases, the lungs or chest muscles aren’t able to expand enough. This reduces air flow and the ability to send oxygen into the bloodstream. Restrictive lung disorders include scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary fibrosis.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about lung function tests?

In addition to your lung function tests, your health care provider may order a blood oxygen level test.В It’s also known as an arterial blood gases (ABGs) test. This test measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Performing a good FVC test is not easy! Explaining the patient how to perform the test is key to get a good result. Patient cooperation is very important as well.

The Forced Vital Capacity consists of a forced expiration in the spirometer followed by a forced inspiration.

Preparation

Although the test can be performed while standing up, most recommend to do it while sitting down.

It is recommended to loosen or take of tight cloths for the test (eg. a tie).

Explaining the patient what he needs to do is extremely important to get a good result. The better the test is explained (don’t hesitate to show how to do it!) the better the patient will understand what is required and the more disappointment and demotivation are avoided.

Although not strictly necessary it is recommended to put a nose clip on the patient’s nose during the test.

Many spirometers allow to perform a few respiratory cycles at rest before the FVC is performed. This tidal breathing can be helpful for the patient to understand better what needs to be done during the test. Other spirometers do not allow this tidal breathing and the patient will need to inspire completely before putting the mouthpiece in his mouth. This way of performing a test is more error prone.

Performing FVC

After preparation and explaining the test very well to the patient he will do the following:

  1. Tidal breathing
    If the spirometer permits it, it is recommended to start with some tidal breathing and explaining the patient what he is doing while showing it on the screen of the spirometer or computer.
  2. Maximum inspiration
    The patient fills his lungs entirely. This first inspiration does not need to be as quick as posibble, but it must be as deep (complete) as possible.
  3. (A short pause between maximum inspiration and forced expiration is permitted, although not necessary. In any case it should never exceed 2 seconds. Some patients will perform better without this pause, some will perform better with it.)
  4. Forced expiration
    The patient performs a maximal expiration during which all the air is blasted out of the lungs as quick, as forcefully and as long as he can. It is important to empty the lungs as much as possible.
  5. Forced inspiration
    Immediately after the forced expiration a second inhalation is performed. The second inspiration will be forced and as quickly as possible.

The patient should keep his back straight during the test, a common error is to bend over during the forced expiration.

After the flow-volume loop has been performed, put the spirometer down, assess the test quality and explain any errors the patient might have done.

Assess Your Asthma at Home

How to take a spirometry test

How to take a spirometry test

Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist with a background in internal medicine.

A home lung function test measures peak expiratory flow, or PEF. People who have asthma or other lung diseases use peak flow meters to objectively monitor their breathing status and how well their condition is being controlled, allowing them to stay ahead of any impending respiratory issues.

Learning how to perform a PEF and incorporate it into an asthma action plan is an important skill for everyone who has this disease. The process is simple to learn and takes only a few steps.

How to take a spirometry test

Preparation for the Test

To prepare for a home lung function test, you simply need to own a peak flow meter and a chart that shows your expected results. These items should be part of your asthma action plan. Your healthcare provider or asthma educator will provide instructions about how often to perform a PEF and elaborate on any questions or concerns you may have about the task.

How to Perform a PEF

Before doing a home lung function test, to measure your PEF, remove any food, gum, and excess saliva from your mouth, as such obstructions could interfere with the efficiency of the test. Also check the peak flow meter for obstructions or foreign objects, then follow these eight simple steps to effectively perform the test.  

  1. Set your peak flow meter to zero, or the bottom of the scale.
  2. Attach the mouthpiece to the peak flow meter.
  3. Stand up to guarantee you get a deep breath. Stay standing and do not move throughout the test so your results are not affected by a change in position.
  4. Take a deep breath in and place the peak flow meter mouthpiece closely and tightly around your lips. Do not put your tongue inside the mouthpiece.
  5. Breathe out as forcefully as you can, using a huff-like motion, for no longer than one second.
  6. Write down the reading on the gauge.
  7. Place the peak flow meter back to zero before blowing again.
  8. Repeat the blowing and recording process two more times. Go again if you cough or experience any other complications.

After blowing into the peak flow meter a total of three times, record your highest value for the day. If instructed, also record the other readings.

Is It Dangerous?

You may cough or feel a bit lightheaded the first few times you use a peak flow meter, but this is normal. There are no serious health risks associated with performing a home lung function test, and with practice, it will become easier.

If you begin to feel strange, simply take a deep breath and allow your body and mind to calm down. If you have symptoms, you should talk with your healthcare provider, as it may indicate poor control of your asthma.

If for some reason you continue to feel strange, uncomfortable, or anxious after a test, contact your healthcare provider or another medical professional.

How to Understand Your Results

Home lung function tests using a peak flow meter monitor the day-to-day status of your asthma. This measurement tells how much air you are able to forcefully breathe out when trying your absolute hardest. With this in mind, you can expect to view your peak expiratory flow after completing the test to see if you need to take action based on your asthma action plan.  

You will then compare your PEF levels to what is expected. Using charts provided by a medical professional that compare your performance against normal values based on sex, race, age, and height, you will either continue your current treatment or need to take action to make sure you are not getting worse.

Most plans are based on the zone system with green, yellow, and red areas, just like a stoplight.

  • In the green or “go” zone, you are doing well and just need to maintain the status quo. You have minimal symptoms or impairment.
  • In the yellow or “caution” zone, you need to pay more attention and take some steps to prevent the worsening of acute asthma symptoms.
  • The red zone means you were unable to manage your escalating symptoms. Your action plan will tell you what steps to take, but it’s important to seek medical attention.  

The goal is to step up your treatment and head off problems before you need to head to your healthcare provider’s office or the emergency room. The red, yellow, and green colors of the stoplight are known by everyone and are associated with a safety mentality. Categorizing asthma in this way makes it easy for parents and patients to understand what they need to be doing and the seriousness of what is going on.

By doing the test regularly, you will determine your personal best measurement and what is normal for you. Your best efforts will eventually be used to determine treatment rather than a strict comparison to the norms based on your height and weight.

Whenever your PEF levels fall below the expected levels set out in your asthma action plan, you should follow the instructions and contact a medical professional immediately. Tackling asthma in a timely manner is key to treating the condition successfully.

How to take a spirometry test

Spirometry is the recommended lung function test for the diagnosis and monitoring of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This short clip shows how to perform spirometry with a patient in primary care.

The video covers:

  • Introducing and explaining the test to the patient
  • Coaching the patient through the test
  • Obtaining the best possible patient effort

Checklist of steps

Open circuit method

  1. Sit upright in a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground
  2. Breathe in completely and rapidly
  3. Pause for less than 1 second
  4. Place mouthpiece in mouth and close lips to form a good seal
  5. Blast air out as fast and as far as possible until completely empty, or until unable to blow any longer
  6. Breathe in completely and rapidly again
  7. Remove mouthpiece

Closed circuit method

  1. Sit upright in a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground
  2. Place mouthpiece in mouth and close lips to form a good seal
  3. Breathe normally for 2-3 breaths
  4. Breathe in completely and rapidly
  5. Pause for less than 1 second
  6. Blast air out as fast and as far as possible until completely empty, or until unable to blow any longer
  7. Remove mouthpiece

Remember

  • Vigorous verbal encouragement and coaching is essential for the patient to continue to exhale to the end of the manoeuvre (e.g. “keep going”)
  • At least 3 technically acceptable blows must be obtained (usually not more than 8 blows in total should be attempted)
  • Check test repeatability and perform more blows as necessary
  • Acceptability and repeatability criteria must be met to ensure accurate results

Spirometry training

All health professionals conducting spirometry should be appropriately trained. The National Asthma Council Australia offers free spirometry training workshops for GPs and practice nurses across Australia.

More information

This clip provides a brief overview of correct technique for performing spirometry in primary care. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to performing and interpreting spirometry.

For more detailed information see our comprehensive section on Spirometry.

Acknowledgements

This resource was developed in consultation with Ms Judi Wicking, asthma and respiratory educator, who appears in the film clip. Thanks also to Ms Joan Raven for participating in the clip.

Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Novartis Australia.

The National Asthma Council Australia retained editorial control.

Disclaimer

Although all care has been taken, this video is a general guide only, which is not a substitute for assessment of appropriate courses of treatment on a case-by-case basis. The National Asthma Council Australia expressly disclaims all responsibility (including for negligence) for any loss, damage or personal injury resulting from reliance on the information contained herein.

  • Medical Author: Karthik Kumar, MBBS
  • Medical Reviewer: Pallavi Suyog Uttekar, MD

What is a pulmonary function test?

How to take a spirometry test

Pulmonary function test or lung function test is a group of tests that check the workings of the lungs. They are noninvasive test which can determine the functional status of the lung cells and how well the lungs are working.

The tests look for:

  • How much air can lungs hold?
  • How well can air move in and out of the lungs?
  • How well the lungs move oxygen the into bloodstream.

There are several types of lung tests. They include:

  • Spirometry: The most common type of lung function test. It measures how much and how quickly air can move in and out of the lungs.
  • Lung volume test: It is also known as body plethysmography. This test measures the amount of air an individual can hold in the lungs and the amount of air that remains after exhalation (breathing out).
  • Gas diffusion test: This test measures how oxygen and other gases move from the lungs to the bloodstream.
  • Exercise stress test: This test looks at how exercise affects lung function.

These tests may be used singly or together, depending on specific symptoms or conditions.

How is a pulmonary function test performed?

Below are the steps for the most common four types of lung function tests.

For a spirometry test:

  • The patient is asked to sit on a chair and a soft clip will be put on the nose. This is done so that patient breathes through the mouth, rather than your nose.
  • The patient is asked to place lips tightly around the mouthpiece and breathe in and out as instructed.
  • The spirometer will measure the amount and rate of airflow over a period of time.

For a lung volume (body plethysmography) test:

  • The patient asked to sit in a clear, airtight room that looks like a telephone booth.
  • The patient may wear a nose clip and place lips around a mouthpiece connected to a machine.
  • The patient is asked to breathe in and out as instructed.
  • The pressure changes inside the room help measure lung volume.

For a gas diffusion test:

  • The patient may wear a mouthpiece connected to a machine.
  • They may be asked to inhale (breathe in) a very small, non-dangerous amount of carbon monoxide or other types of gas.
  • Measurements will either be taken as they breathe in and out.
  • The test can show how effective the lungs are functioning by moving gases to the bloodstream.
  • The patient may be asked to ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill.
  • They may be attached to monitors and machines that will measure blood oxygen, blood pressure, and heartbeat.
  • This test shows how well the lungs perform during exercise.

How to take a spirometry test

QUESTION

Why would my doctor order a pulmonary function test?

Your doctor may order pulmonary function tests to:

  • Find the cause of breathing problems
  • Diagnose and monitor chronic lung diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema
  • See if lung disease treatments are working
  • Check lung function before surgery
  • Check whether exposure to chemicals or other substances in the home or workplace has caused lung damage.

Testing pulmonary function tests can help doctors diagnose other conditions such as:

  • Thickened, stretched, or enlarged airways
  • Thickening or hardening of your connective tissues (scleroderma)
  • The weakness of the muscles in the wall of the chest
  • Diseases of the air exchange units of the lung (alveolar membrane)

What do the results of the pulmonary function test mean?

If a patient has abnormal lung function test results they might have a lung disease. There are two main types of lung diseases that can be diagnosed with a lung function test:

  • Obstructive diseases: These diseases cause airways to become narrow, making it hard for air to flow out of the lungs. Obstructive lung diseases include asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.
  • Restrictive diseases: In these diseases, the lungs or chest muscles aren’t able to expand enough. This reduces airflow and the ability to send oxygen into the bloodstream. Restrictive lung disorders include scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Mixed pattern: Sometimes, a disease may be a combination of obstructive and restrictive patterns, this may need a different management protocol.

What is spirometry?

A spirometry is a test that assesses the function of the lungs.

A spirometry is performed to make a diagnosis or to follow-up lung disease.

Common lung diseases that can be diagnosed or followed with spirometry are:

  • Asthma
  • COPD (emphysema, chronic bronchitis)
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Restrictive lulng diseases

From what age can a spirometry be performed?

An experienced technician or physician can perform spirometry in children aged 3 or 4 years old. For less experienced technicians it is recommended not to perform spirometry testing before 7 or 8 years old.

How long does a spirometry test take?

The duration of a spirometry test is dependent of the cooperation of the test subject and the experience and coaching of the tester.

In perfect conditions the spirometry test can be performed in 5 minutes.

What are indications for spirometry?

Spirometry should be performed at least once on all (ex-)smokers older than 40 years.

Other indications are:

  • if the signs or history suggest a lung disease
  • signs of lung damage on chest X-ray
  • low oxygen saturation
  • follow-up of known lung diseases
  • detecting lung disease in people who come into professional contact with certain substances

What are the contraindications for a spirometry?

Spirometry is not recommended in the following cases:

  • hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • pneumothorax (air between the lungs and the chest wall)
  • cardiovascular disease such as recent infarction, pulmonary embolism, aneurysm, unstable cardiovascular status
  • nausea or vomiting
  • recent chest, abdomen, or eye surgery

Is spirometry painful?

Usually spirometry is not painfull. In rare case a transient headache or pain in the chest can occur.

What are the dangers of spirometry?

Spirometry is harmless provided precautions are taken and do not blow if there is a contraindication.

Due to the forced maneuver, dizziness, mild headache, chest pain, coughing or syncope (fainting) can sometimes occur.

A major complication is a bronchospasm or asthma attack during the test. This is noticed when the successive tests give lower and lower one-second values and Tiffeneau indices and reproducibility is never achieved. If this occurs, the test should be discontinued and appropriate measures should be taken against the asthma attack.

The occurrence of this phenomenon is evidence of the presence of exercise-induced asthma.

Other complications are extremely rare.

Can a spirometry be performed with an acute respiratory infection?

In principle, an acute respiratory infection is not a contraindication to performing a spirometry test, but the acute infection can affect the results. It is therefor rarely useful to perform a spirometry in this cases.

Pulmonary function tests are a group of tests that measure how well your lungs work: their ability to hold air, move air in and out, and to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. These tests can be used to diagnose some conditions, like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung fibrosis, and they can measure how severe the lung problem is, or how well a treatment is working.

Lung function tests include spirometry, which measures how much air you can breathe in and out, and how fast you can breathe out; lung volume measurements, which reflect how stiff or elastic the lungs and rib cage are; and diffusion capacity, which measures how well the oxygen you breathe transfers into your bloodstream. While pulmonary function tests don’t necessarily identify the specific cause of your breathing difficulties, they can characterize the nature of the particular lung problem, which helps doctors arrive at a diagnosis. For example, abnormal flow rates might suggest asthma or COPD, pulmonary fibrosis might cause the lungs to be particularly stiff, and a weak diaphragm and respiratory muscles could suggest a neuromuscular disease like myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barré syndrome.

These tests are usually done on an outpatient basis, in a special exam room or lab that has all the measuring devices and equipment necessary to carry them out. Most often, a specially trained respiratory therapist or technician will guide you through the series of tests that involve inhaling and exhaling into a tube connected to a recording machine. Sometimes, spirometry may be done in your doctor’s office. A peak flow meter is a small, hand-held machine often used to monitor asthma control, that measures how fast air can be exhaled, and can be used anywhere.

What is it?

A spirometry test measures the amount of air you are capable of exhaling during a forced breathing maneuver and the speed at which you can exhale it. The results from this test give an idea about the capacity of your lungs and the condition of your airways.

What to expect?

The test is performed with a device called a spirometer that measures the amount and speed of the air you can blow out. Different methods of measurement lead to differently sized and shaped spirometers. A spirometer can be as small as a hair dryer, or it can be part of a large complicated device the size of a small desk, or it can be part of a glass booth that you sit inside. The test is performed the same way on all spirometers.

You will be asked to sit upright in a chair. You may be asked to loosen your bra or your belt if these could restrict your breathing. If you are using supplemental oxygen then you will be asked to take your nasal cannula off. You will probably have your nose clipped so that you will breathe only through your mouth, and you will be asked to breathe through a mouthpiece. It is important that you wrap your lips snugly around the mouthpiece in order to get a tight seal so that air does not leak.

When the spirometry test starts you will be told to breathe quietly for several breaths and then, when asked, to take as deep a breath as you possibly can and then to blow it out as fast and as long as you possibly can. The staff person giving you the test should be encouraging and coaching you the entire time you are performing the test. At the end of the test you may be asked to take another fast, deep breath in but this part is often optional.

You will probably need to perform the spirometry test at least three times but more may be necessary and this will be based on test quality and reproducibility. The staff person who is performing your test should tell you each time whether you did the test correctly, or if not, which part of the test you need to improve.

The spirometry test may make you very short of breath. This is normal. Despite this you need to blow out for at least six seconds, and to blow as hard as you can every time. If you become too tired, short of breath, or uncomfortable please take time to recover between tests. If you are using supplemental oxygen you can use it between tests if this will help you recover. You can drink water if your throat is uncomfortable or dry. Kleenex should be available if you start coughing.

The nose clip and the mouthpiece should both be new and clean at the start of your testing session. If you are having difficulty keeping your lips snugly around the mouthpiece you should be given a flanged rubber mouthpiece to use which should also be new and clean. The staff person performing your test should be wearing gloves or at a minimum should have performed hand hygiene before your testing session.

What is a normal measurement?

While there are quite a number of values that can be measured from a spirometry test, the three most important and useful values are:

  • FVC (Forced Vital Capacity), which is the total amount of air you are able to exhale rapidly and with maximal effort, after a maximal inhalation, measured in liters;
  • FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 Second), which is the amount of air you exhale in the first second of the FVC test, measured in liters;
  • FEV1/FVC ratio, measured in percent.

These values are compared to normal values for someone that is your height, age, gender and ethnicity. These normal values will come from one of several different population studies and there are two different ways of making this comparison.

Percent predicted: an FVC or FEV1 that is at least 80% of the predicted value is considered to be within normal limits. The normal range for the FEV1/FVC ratio is more variable, but a value that is at least 95% of the predicted value is used most frequently.

Lower Limit of Normal (LLN): the lower limit of normal is based on a statistical analysis of the study population. An FVC, FEV1 or FEV1/FVC ratio above the LLN is considered to be within normal limits.

If the FVC, FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio are normal, then the test results are normal.

If the FVC is normal and the FEV1 or FEV1/FVC ratio are below normal, then this suggests you may have airway obstruction which includes lung diseases like asthma, COPD or bronchitis. The amount of reduction in FEV1 reflects the severity of the disease. The FVC also may be reduced, but usually to a lesser degree than the FEV1.

If the FEV1 is normal and the FVC is below normal, then this suggests you may have a restrictive lung disease which includes lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonitis or sarcoidosis.

If both the FVC and FEV1 are below normal, then a below normal FEV1/FVC ratio suggests an obstructive process, and a normal FEV1/FVC ratio suggests a restrictive process. The diagnosis of a restrictive process cannot be made with confidence without evidence of a decreased total lung capacity (TLC).

Spirometry test results usually include graphs of your tests. These graphs are flow-volume curves or loops and volume-time curves. A flow-volume curve compares the speed at which you blew out the air in your lungs with how much air you blew out. Different lung diseases have distinct flow-volume curve shapes and these shapes can reveal specific problems that are not shown by the numerical results from the spirometry test.

Although volume-time curves also show patterns, these patterns are very subtle and the curves are most useful for assessing the quality of the spirometry test.

What is typical with ILD?

Interstitial lung diseases usually make lungs stiffer which makes it harder to expand them when you take a deep breath. Some interstitial diseases can also reduce the alveolar space in your lungs. Both of these effects will reduce the vital capacity of your lungs, that is the maximal amount of air that you can move in and out of your lungs in a single breath. By itself however the results from your spirometry test cannot be used to diagnose ILD.

Interstitial lung diseases do not usually affect the airways so the speed at which you exhale is usually not affected. When the capacity of the lung is reduced by a large enough amount however, the FEV1 can also be reduced but usually not as much as the FVC is reduced, which still results in a normal or increased FEV1/FVC ratio.

What affects test quality?

Your FVC can be underestimated:

  • if you do not take as deep a breath as you possibly can;
  • when you stop blowing out too soon;
  • when you leak air around the mouthpiece.

Your FEV1 can be underestimated:

  • when you do not blow hard enough;
  • if you hesitate when you start blowing.

Your predicted FVC and FEV1 are directly related to your height so your test results cannot be assessed correctly if your height has not been measured accurately. Your height should be measured regularly and it should be measured with your shoes off, with you standing straight while looking directly ahead.

What is Spirometry?

Spirometry (measuring the lung capacity) is the most important test to diagnose and monitor COPD.

COPD causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes (or airways), resulting in shortness of breath. The greater the narrowing, the more difficult breathing becomes. Spirometry is a test which measures exactly how much the bronchial tubes have narrowed. The spirometer measures the speed your lungs can be filled and emptied of air, giving an indication of how well your lungs are performing. This enables your doctor to make decisions about your lung condition and to plan the best treatment for you. Further spirometry tests later on can help decide whether treatments should be continued, changed, or are no longer needed.

What happens?

Having a spirometry test is straightforward. It may occasionally be tiring and make you feel a bit puffed, but usually it is not uncomfortable. The test involves taking a full breath in and blowing out with your best effort into a tube attached to the spirometer machine. Various measurements will indicate how your lungs are working. The test is performed whilst seated and usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. It is sometimes carried out before and after inhaling a reliever drug such as Ventolin or Bricanyl to measure the effect of these drugs. In this case, your doctor may ask you not to take your usual reliever medication for a few hours prior to the test.

To ensure the test is done accurately, you will be asked to:
  • Breathe in as deeply as you can
  • Seal your lips around the mouthpiece
  • Blow out as hard and fast as you can, and keep going as long as possible.

This test will be repeated three times.

Don’t forget to breathe is a guide for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Download your free copy.

This information will help you learn how to use your incentive spirometer.

About Your Incentive Spirometer

An incentive spirometer is a device that will expand your lungs by helping you to breathe more deeply and fully. The parts of your incentive spirometer are labeled in Figure 1.

How to take a spirometry test

Figure 1. Incentive Spirometer

Use your incentive spirometer after your surgery and do your deep breathing and coughing exercises. This will help keep your lungs active throughout your recovery and prevent complications such as pneumonia.

If you have an active respiratory infection (such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or COVID-19) do not use the device when other people are around.

How To Use Your Incentive Spirometer

Here is a video demonstrating how to use your incentive spirometer:

Setting up your incentive spirometer

The first time you use your incentive spirometer, you will need to take the flexible tubing with the mouthpiece out of the bag. Stretch out the tubing and connect it to the outlet on the right side of the base (see Figure 1). The mouthpiece will be attached to the other end of the tubing.

Using your incentive spirometer

When you’re using your incentive spirometer, make sure to breathe through your mouth. If you breathe through your nose, the incentive spirometer won’t work properly. You can hold your nose if you have trouble.

If you feel dizzy at any time, stop and rest. Try again at a later time.

To use your incentive spirometer, follow the steps below.

  1. Sit upright in a chair or in bed. Hold the incentive spirometer at eye level.
    • If you had surgery on your chest or abdomen (belly), hug or hold a pillow to help splint or brace your incision (surgical cut) while you’re using the incentive spirometer. This will help decrease pain at your incision.
  2. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it. Slowly breathe out (exhale) completely.
  3. Breathe in (inhale) slowly through your mouth as deeply as you can. As you take the breath, you will see the piston rise inside the large column. While the piston rises, the indicator on the right should move upwards. It should stay in between the 2 arrows (see Figure 1).
  4. Try to get the piston as high as you can, while keeping the indicator between the arrows.
    • If the indicator doesn’t stay between the arrows, you’re breathing either too fast or too slow.
  5. When you get it as high as you can, hold your breath for 10 seconds, or as long as possible. While you’re holding your breath, the piston will slowly fall to the base of the spirometer.
  6. Once the piston reaches the bottom of the spirometer, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Rest for a few seconds.
  7. Repeat 10 times. Try to get the piston to the same level with each breath.
  8. After each set of 10 breaths, try to cough, holding a pillow over your incision, as needed. Coughing will help loosen or clear any mucus in your lungs.
  9. Put the marker at the level the piston reached on your incentive spirometer. This will be your goal next time.

Repeat these steps every hour that you’re awake.

Cover the mouthpiece of the incentive spirometer when you aren’t using it.

Table of Contents

What is the rate of spirometer?

Also known as respirometer/three ball exerciser/breathing exerciser. Innovative system to exercise respiration through inspiration….Romsons Spirometer 3-ball Respiratory Exerciser (Pack of 1)

Sales Package 1 Spirometer
Wide Flow Rate Red : 600 ml/cc, Yellow : 900 ml/cc, Blue : 1200 ml/cc

Is a spirometer good for asthma?

Spirometry helps diagnose and manage asthma. And it helps your healthcare provider decide on your treatment. A spirometry test can also show how well your treatment is working. If follow-up spirometry tests show that your asthma is well controlled, your treatment is working.

Which is the best lung exerciser?

Best Breathing Exerciser Trainers:

  • #1 – The Breather Respiratory Muscle Trainer.
  • #2 – POWERbreathe Plus Resistance Breathing Exerciser Trainer.
  • #3 – AirPhysio Sports Edition Breathing Exerciser.
  • #4 – POWERbreathe Plus Fitness Breathing Muscle Trainer.
  • #5 – AirPhysio Natural Breathing Lung Expansion Exerciser.

Can I use spirometer everyday?

Your healthcare provider or respiratory therapist will direct you as to how frequently and for how long you should use the spirometer. Most of the time it’s recommended that spirometry be done every one to two hours, but some healthcare providers may recommend more or less frequent usage.

Can normal person use spirometer?

Your health care provider may recommend that you use an incentive spirometer after surgery or when you have a lung illness, such as pneumonia. The spirometer is a device used to help you keep your lungs healthy. Using the incentive spirometer teaches you how to take slow deep breaths.

How can I test my lungs at home?

  1. Set the pointer.
  2. Attach the mouthpiece to the meter.
  3. Sit up or stand up as straight as you can, and take a deep breath.
  4. Close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece.
  5. Breathe out as hard and as fast as you can for 1 or 2 seconds.
  6. Write down the number on the gauge.
  7. Repeat these steps 2 more times.

How many times we can use spirometer?

Take 10 to 15 breaths with your spirometer every 1 to 2 hours, or as often as instructed by your nurse or doctor.

Do lung exercisers work?

Lung exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and belly breathing, can help a person improve their lung function. However, it is a good idea to check with a doctor before trying any new exercise, even a breathing exercise. This is especially true for people with underlying health issues, such as COPD.

Do breathing exercisers work?

If practiced regularly, breathing exercises can help rid the lungs of accumulated stale air, increase oxygen levels and get the diaphragm to return to its job of helping you breathe.

What is a spirometer?

A Spirometer is a device used to perform the Spirometry test. It is also known as Respirometer or Lung Exerciser and measures the volume of air inhaled and exhaled by the lungs. Different types of Spirometers are – Fully Electronic, Incentive, Peak Flow Meter, etc.

How much does deep breathing lung exerciser cost in India?

Deep Breathing Lung Exerciser – 3 Balls Incentive Spirometer – Small and Washable. FREE Delivery over ₹499. Fulfilled by Amazon FREE Delivery over ₹499.

How to use the niscomed spirometer lung exerciser?

Niscomed Spirometer Lung Exerciser 1 Put your mouth tightly around the mouthpiece 2 Inhale gradually and deeply and try to raise the three balls as high as possible, and keep them there for at least three seconds 3 Now take the mouthpiece out and exhale normally 4 Repeat this 5-10 times every two hours or as directed by your doctor

Why medikro spirostar spirometry systems?

Medikro SpiroStar spirometry systems provides a whole range of options that offer customized solutions to your needs. The Spiro 2000 software can be used from basic lung function tests to advanced bronchial provocation challenge tests. With Medikro spirometry systems, explore a whole new world of dynamic spirometry.

By Editorial Team

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Challenge tests are also called bronchial provocation tests or trigger tests. They measure how reactive your airways and lungs are to certain triggers. Airway sensitivity is a sign of asthma. 1,2

Your doctor may have you do a challenge test to: 1,2

  • Confirm you have asthma
  • Rule out asthma if other tests did not give a clear diagnosis
  • Identify triggers of asthma symptoms

During a challenge test, your doctor will use spirometry to measure lung function. They will do this before and after exposing your airways to a certain asthma trigger. This will tell them how much your lung function changes. 1,2

What are some types of challenge tests?

Exercise challenge

Exercise is a common trigger of asthma symptoms. An exercise challenge test can help determine if exercise triggers your asthma. During the test, you will exercise while your oxygen and heart rate are monitored. 1,2

Methacholine challenge

If you have asthma, methacholine is a drug that makes your airways tighten at a lower dose. During a methacholine challenge test, you will inhale increasing doses of methacholine. Your doctor will use spirometry to see how lung function changes. 3,4

A methacholine challenge test is used when you have symptoms of asthma but a normal lung function test. It is a tool that helps identify people who have an uncertain asthma diagnosis. If your lungs do not react to lower doses of methacholine, you may not have asthma. Many other conditions may show similar symptoms, including: 4

  • Pneumonia
  • Upper airway obstruction
  • Viral infections
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Irritant challenge

During an irritant challenge test, your doctor will expose you to a certain asthma trigger. This may include: 4

  • Chemicals
  • Perfume
  • Smoke
  • Allergens

You will take a breathing test before and after exposure. This helps your doctor confirm an asthma diagnosis and any possible triggers. 4

How are challenge tests done?

Exercise challenge

During an exercise challenge test, you will undergo spirometry before and after exercise. The exercise usually includes running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Your doctor will measure heart rate and blood oxygen levels during the exercise. This helps ensure the exercise is intense yet safe. 5

You will exercise for about 6 to 8 minutes. After exercising, you will undergo spirometry every few minutes for about 30 minutes. Your breathing ability is usually lowest 5 to 10 minutes after exercise. The airways then open, and breathing ability improves within 30 minutes. 5

If your breathing ability decreases by 10 percent or more after exercising, you likely have exercise-induced asthma. This is measured using the forced expiratory volume (FEV1) by spirometry. 5

Your doctor may use an inhalation test instead of a direct exercise challenge test. Certain inhalation challenges simulate exercise conditions. Three alternatives to an exercise challenge test include: 3

  • Eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea challenge
  • Mannitol challenge
  • Hypertonic saline challenge

Methacholine challenge

During a methacholine challenge test, you will undergo spirometry before and after inhaling a dose of methacholine. This will measure how much your airway narrowed. The test will start with a very small dose of methacholine. Depending on your response, the dose will be gradually increased. 3

This process will be repeated until your breathing ability drops by 20 percent. This is determined by your FEV1 in spirometry. You will then use a rescue inhaler to open the airway back up. Spirometry will confirm that your airways are opening. 3

The dose that causes your breathing ability to drop by 20 percent is called the PC20. A lower dose means your airways are more sensitive and you are likely to have asthma. If you reach the maximum dose without breathing ability dropping by 20 percent, you have a normal airway sensitivity. This means you are unlikely to have asthma. 3

You may experience coughing or chest tightness during the test. But most people do not experience any symptoms. 3

How do I prepare for a challenge test?

Prepare for any challenge test exactly as your doctor describes. For example, you may need to stop taking certain medicines before the test. This is because some inhalers make your airway less sensitive and interfere with the test. 3,5

Your doctor may also ask you to avoid caffeine or large meals before a challenge test. They also may tell you what clothing to wear to the test. 3,5

Tell your doctor about your full medical history. There are some situations when a challenge test should not be performed. This includes people who: 3,5

  • Have had a heart attack or stroke in the last 3 months
  • Have uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Are pregnant or nursing

Also tell your doctor if you feel unwell on the day of the test. If you have a cough or a cold on the day of the test, they may want to do the test when you feel better.