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Spirometry is a simple test used to help diagnose and monitor certain lung conditions by measuring how much air you can breathe out in one forced breath.

It’s carried out using a device called a spirometer, which is a small machine attached by a cable to a mouthpiece.

Why spirometry is carried out

Spirometry can be used to help diagnose a lung condition if you have symptoms, or if your doctor feels you’re at an increased risk of developing a particular lung condition.

For example, spirometry may be recommended if you have a persistent cough or breathlessness, or if you’re over 35 and smoke.

Conditions that can be picked up and monitored using spirometry are:

If you’ve already been diagnosed with 1 of these conditions, spirometry may be carried out to check the severity of the condition or see how you’re responding to treatment.

What happens during a spirometry test

You’ll be seated during the test and a soft clip will be placed on your nose to stop air escaping from it.

The tester will explain what you need to do, and you may be asked to have a few practise attempts first.


When you’re ready for the test, you’ll be asked to:

  • inhale fully, so your lungs are completely filled with air
  • close your lips tightly around the mouthpiece
  • exhale as quickly and forcefully as you can, making sure you empty your lungs fully
  • This will normally need to be repeated at least 3 times to ensure a reliable result.

Sometimes, the test may need to be repeated around 15 minutes after taking some inhaled bronchodilator medicine. This is referred to as Spirometry with Reversibility.

This can show if you have a lung condition that responds to these medicines.


Overall, your appointment should last around 30 to 60 minutes. You’ll be able to go home soon after the tests have finished and return to your normal activities.

Spirometry Test Criteria

Please note that if you are attending for a spirometry test with reversibility you will need to:

  • Avoid using any Salbutamol inhalers 6 hours before your appointment.
  • Avoid using all other inhalers 24 hours before your appointment.



Spirometry Test Criteria

You should NOT complete a Spirometry test, if you have had any of the following conditions WITHIN THE LAST 6 WEEKS unless stated otherwise:-

  • Collapsed lung  (Pneumothorax)
  • Pulmonary Embolism (lung clot)
  • Coughed up blood (Haemoptysis)
  • Unstable heart condition to include Angina or Hypertension
  • Heart attack (Myocardial Infarction)
  • Stroke (CVA) or mini stroke (TIA)
  • Angioplasty (catheterisation of blocked arteries)
  • Known brain / chest / abdominal aneurysm
  • Chest infection
  • COVID infection, or tested positive for COVID-19 virus
  • Unstable Glaucoma
  • Detached retina
  • Perforated ear drum


  • Has an active infection eg TB that hasn’t had treatment for over 2 weeks before appointment


  • Head, chest, abdominal or eye surgery (WITHIN THE LAST 3 MONTHS)
  • Increased intraocular pressure (WITHIN THE LAST 3 MONTHS)


Please contact the Practice as soon as possible to reschedule your Spirometry Test.

Patient Information Leaflets

Spirometry Patient Information Leaflet – Marple Cottage Surgery

Spirometry Patient Information Leaflet – Guywood Practice Romiley

Date published: 7th December, 2023
Date last updated: 7th December, 2023