Spirometry is a standard pulmonary and breathing test used to check the lung’s functioning that how much air you inhale and exhale, and how fast and efficiently you exhale the air from your lungs. This test is used to detect the problem in your lungs if you are suffering from shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough. Spirometry also diagnoses various medical issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, asthma, and many other breathing disorders. This test periodically helps in observing the lung’s health, whether the condition of the patient is improving or getting worse.

Why is it taken?                    

Your doctor will order a spirometry test if he observed the signs and symptoms of chronic lung disease in your body. These chronic lung diseases include:

  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema

Your doctor can also suggest a spirometry test before surgery to check whether your lungs’ condition is good enough to bear the rigors of the operation. Occupational-related lung disorders can also be detected through spirometry.

Before the test:

Following are tips you need to follow before the spirometry test:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully before and during the test.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes to prevent interference during deep breaths.
  • Try to avoid a large meal before the test.
  • Avoid using inhaled breathing medications and other medication before the test according to the doctor’s advice.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol 24 hours before the test.

During the test:

During a spirometry test, you are asked to breathe in a tube named a spirometer. Just before the test, a nurse, technician, or doctor will provide you with specific instructions regarding the test. Try to listen carefully to their instructions and ask if you couldn’t understand anything. Proper testing is essential to get meaningful and accurate results. The testing process takes less than 15 minutes, and the overall appointment period will be 30 to 90 minutes.

The complete procedure of the test includes the following:

  • You will probably be told to sit in a particular place during the test.
  • Your technician will use a clip to keep your nostrils closed.
  • A spirometer will insert into your mouth.
  • It is vital to make a seal with your lips around the spirometer so that no air leaks out during the test.
  • To record measurements, you have to take a deep and long breath inside the tube for several seconds.
  • Repeat this process at least three-time to ensure the consistency of the result.
  • If there is enough difference between the three outcomes, then the whole testing process will be repeated
  • The average value among the three comparative tests will be taken as the final result.

After the test, your doctor may give you inhaled medications (bronchodilator) to open the lungs. After waiting for 15 minutes, they repeat this test to notice the improvement in your airflow by these bronchodilators.


A spirometer can measure the total air quantity that you can breathe in and out and the time you take during a deep breath. Both of these measurements will be compared with an average result according to your age, height, and sex to examine the lungs’ functioning. The key spirometry measurements include the following:

  • Forced expiratory volume (FEV): Forced expiratory volume (FEV) refers to the total quantity of air that an individual can exhale in 1 second during a forced breath. This measurement helps your doctor to detect the severity of your breathing problems.
  • Forced vital capacity (FVC): FVC is the air quantity forcefully exhaled from your lungs during the FEV test. Lower than average FCV reading depicts restricted breathing. The spirometry measurements will show that the problem in your lungs is either restrictive, obstructive, or both.

The person conducting your test doesn’t give results immediately to you. Your specialist and doctor will look at your result first, and then it will be discussed with you after a few days.

Risks and side effects:

The spirometry test is safe and straightforward that has no severe side effects. After the test, some people may feel sick, shaky, faint, or dizzy for a short period; later on, everything gets normal. A spirometry test will not be safe for you if you recently suffered from a heart attack, unstable angina, high blood pressure, or any operation on your chest, stomach, head, or eyes. This test increases the pressure inside your abdomen, chest, head, and eyes when you exhale the air out of your lungs. If you are already suffering from health issues, this test will be delayed or avoided; otherwise, your condition may worsen.


  • https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-procedures-and-tests/spirometry#:~:text=Spirometry%20is%20the%20most%20common,of%20breath%2C%20or%20a%20cough retrieved on May 03, 2022.
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/spirometry/about/pac-20385201 retrieved on May 03, 2022.
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/spirometry/ retrieved on May 03, 2022.
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/spirometry retrieved on May 03, 2022.
  • https://www.webmd.com/lung/what-is-spirometry retrieved on May 03, 2022.

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