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Spirometry is a test which can help diagnose various lung conditions most commonly COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and Asthma.  It is also used to monitor the severity of certain lung conditions and their response to treatment.

What is a Spirometer?

A spirometer is a device which measures the amount of air that you can blow out.  You breathe in fully, seal your lips around the mouthpiece and then blow out hard and as fast as you can until your lungs are empty.  The routine is repeated approximately 4-6 times.  A graph is obtained which shows how much air you can force out in 1 second (FEV1) and how much air you can blow out in total (FVC).

Is there any risk in having Spirometry?

Spirometry is a low risk test.  However blowing out hard can increase the pressure in your chest, abdomen and eyes.  This means it should not be performed if you have had recent eye or abdominal surgery.  If you have had a chest infection, it should not ideally be done for 1 month after.

Preparation for Spirometry

You should wear loose, unrestrictive clothing.

Avoid heavy meals during the 2 hours before the test

Avoid vigorous exercise for ½ hour before

Please try not to smoke for 24hours and avoid alcohol for 4 hours before.

If possible do not take any blue or grey inhalers for 6 hours before – ie Salbutamol, Terbutaline, Ipatropium

Do not take any purple or green inhalers or Symbicort for 12 hours before

Do not take Spiriva for 24 hours before

Do not take tablets of Aminophylline or Theophylline for 24 hours

Your appointment may take 30-40 minutes.  Please bring with you any inhalers or medicines that you use to aid your breathing


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