Spirometry (Spy-Ram-Uh-Tree) is a simple office test used to assess how well your lungs are working by measuring how much air you breathe, how much you breathe, and how fast you breathe. 

Spirometry is used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other conditions that affect breathing.

How to prepare for a spirometry test?

You should not smoke for an hour before the spirometry test. You should avoid alcohol even that day. Eating too much of a meal can also affect your breathing ability.

Don’t wear tight clothing that restricts your breathing. Your doctor may have instructions on whether to use inhalers or other options before the test.

How a spirometry test is done?

You sit in a chair and place the clip over your nose to close your nostrils. Then take a deep breath and inhale into a tube as fast and hard as you can.

You need to wrap your lips tightly around the tube to get all the air in. Generally, the test is administered three times each time so that the results are the same.

The tube is connected to a machine called a spirometer. It records how much air your lungs breathe and how fast you breathe.

All of this information can help your doctor determine what is causing your breathing problems.

Duration of the test

The spirometry test usually takes 45 minutes. Depending on the waiting time, it may be longer. Ask your doctor if the test will take longer so that you don’t rush or delay other appointments.

Interpreting Results

As soon as your test results are available, your doctor can review them with you at your appointment.

Spirometry provides two important measures of lung function:

Forced Key Capacity (FVC), a measure of the amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs with a full breath

Forced expiratory volume (FEV1), the amount of air you exhale from your lungs per second

Spirometry test risks

  • Spirometry is a painless test. Most people have no problem with this. Depending on your health, deep breathing can make you feel a little tired or light.

  • If you have heart disease or recent surgery, see your doctor make sure spirometry is not a problem for you.