Spirometry tests how well lungs are functioning. It measures how much air enters the lungs when a person inhales, how much air the patient exhales, and how quickly the patient inhales.

Kingsway Medical Center uses spirometry tests to diagnose asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other lung conditions that affect breathing. A clinician at a medical center might also use spirometry to monitor a patient’s lung condition or determine how well treatment is working for that patient. Surgeons often order spirometry tests prior to performing surgery to make sure a patient’s breathing is healthy enough to undergo the rigors of a surgical procedure.

Before a spirometry test, your doctor may instruct you to avoid the use of any breathing medications or certain other medications. To undergo spirometry, patients should wear comfortable clothing that allows them to take deep breaths. It is best to avoid large meals before the test.

Prior to spirometry, the doctor or nurse will provide instructions on how to perform the test. The patient will sit in a chair. The medical professional performing the test will apply a clip to the patient’s nose to keep the nostrils closed.

During the spirometry test, the patient will breathe into a tube attached to a machine, known as a spirometer. The patient will take a deep breath and then exhale as hard as he or she can into the tube. The medical professional may request the patient repeat the test two or more times to ensure consistent results. The entire process takes 15 minutes or less.

Spirometry is a safe test. Some people feel short of breath or dizzy for a few moments following spirometry. The test is not recommended for people who have recently had a heart attack or have another type of heart condition. Spirometry may rarely trigger breathing problems.