What is a Breathing Test? (Spirometry)

Spirometry is a way of assessing your lung function by measuring the volume of air that can be expelled from the lungs after a deep breath in. It can give valuable information about conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). So we can get the most useful and accurate information, please follow the instructions below before coming to your test. 

  • Your condition should be stable and at least six weeks since an exacerbation.
  • You should feel well.
  • If possible, avoid smoking for 24 hours prior to the test.
  • Do not take alcohol for four hours before the test.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes which do not restrict your chest or abdominal expansion.


If this is your first spirometry or you are having a reversability test, please stop the medications listed below.

  • 24 hours before the test

Stop the following medications: Tiotropium (Spiriva), Volmax tablets, Uniphyllin tables, Nuelin tablets, Slophyllon tablets, Aminophylline tablets, Phyllocontin tablets.

  • 12 hours before the test

Stop the following medication: Salmeterol (Serevent), Eformoterol (Oxis, Foradil), Seretide, Symbicort.

  • 8 hours before the test

Do not use the following inhalers: Atrovent, Upatropium, Combivent.

  • 4 hours before the test

Do not use the following, usually blue, inhalers: Ventolin, Salbutamol, Salamol, Airomir, Aerolin, Bricanyl.

You do not need to stop taking your preventer inhalers, usually brown or orange, such as: Clenil, Qvar, Fluticasone, Pulmicort, Beclometasone, these should be continued as normal.

Please bring all your inhalers with you to your appointment. If you are having a reversibility test or it is your first spirometry, you will need to take some ventolin before or during the test. If you do not have a ventolin inhaler, please ask the GP or Nurse Practitioner to prescribe you one.