This test is used to evaluate how well your lungs work by measuring how much air you inhale, how much you exhale and how quickly you exhale. Your doctor may suggest a spirometry test if he or she suspects your signs or symptoms may be caused by a chronic lung condition such as:

  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary fibrosis

If you've already been diagnosed with a chronic lung disorder, spirometry may be used periodically to check how well your medications are working and whether your breathing problems are under control.

Test Duration:

Approximately: 30 minutes

Test Procedure:

A spirometry test requires you to breathe into a tube attached to a machine called a spirometer. Before you do the test our Respiratory Physiologist will give you specific instructions. Listen carefully and ask questions if something is not clear. Doing the test correctly is necessary for accurate and meaningful results.

We will take your Height and Weight.

You'll be seated during the test.

A clip will be placed on your nose to keep your nostrils closed.

You will be asked to take a deep breath and breathe out as hard as you can for several seconds into the tube. It's important that your lips create a seal around the tube, so that no air leaks out.

You'll need to do the test at least 3 times to make sure your results are relatively consistent. If there is too much variation among the three outcomes, you may need to repeat the test again. The highest value among three close test results is used as the final result.

Test Preparation:

You may generally continue with your normal routine. However, there are some points to note to improve comfort and ensure accurate results:

  • Refrain from smoking for as long as possible before the test
  • Avoid tight clothing
  • Avoid a heavy meal 2 hours before the test
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least 4 hours before the test
  • Avoid vigorous exercise for a few hours before the test
  • If you use an inhaler please bring it with you

Follow your doctor's instructions about whether you should avoid use of inhaled breathing medications or other medications before the test.

If it is your first time attending the Respiratory Department for a Lung Function Test do not take the following medication before the test:

  • Salbutamol (Ventolin, Salamol) or Brycanil for at least 4 hours
  • Atrovent or Combivent for at least 8 hours
  • Symbicort, Serevent, Seretide for 12 hours
  • Spiriva (Tiotropium) for 24 hours.
  • Please take all other drugs as prescribed.

Risks Involved:

Spirometry is generally a safe test. You may feel short of breath or dizzy for a moment after you perform the test. Because the test requires some exertion, it isn't performed if you've had a recent heart attack or some other heart conditions. Rarely, the test triggers severe breathing problems.

If you have any of the following please call us to discuss:

  • Unstable angina
  • A recent pneumothorax (air trapped beneath the chest wall)
  • A recent heart attack or stroke
  • Recent eye or abdominal surgery
  • Coughed up blood recently and the cause is not known