Spirometry and Asthma Management

Our Doctors and Practice Nurse can help you or your family diagnose and manage a range of respiratory disorders, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or any other conditions that affect breathing.

Typically disorders are diagnosed and managed using Spirometry, a common test that measures how effectively you can move air in and out of your lungs. The results from this test can be used to aid assessment and monitoring of lung function and health. The results can also be used a part of medical or health assessment.

What is Spirometry?

Spirometry is an accurate breathing test for asthma and COPD (emphysema). It measures your overall lung function by assessing the amount of air you can breathe in and out of your lungs and how hard and fast you can breathe out. The test is not painful.

The machine used to do the test is called a Spirometer. Our GP and Practice Nurse will use a Spirometer to:

  • Check whether the airways in your lungs are narrower than they should be
  • Confirm whether you have asthma or COPD
  • Work out how severe your asthma or COPD is
  • See if your asthma or COPD is getting better or worse with treatment

The test results help you and your GP decide whether you need any medicines or work out whether the type or dose of your current medicine needs to change. Most adults and children over 7 years of age can do the Spirometry test correctly.

What will I have to do for a Spirometry test?

The Spirometry test is performed by our Practice Nurse at the medical centre. You will need to make an appointment for this test. The test takes approximately 30 minutes.

During the Spirometry test you will be asked to:

  • Sit upright in a chair with your legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground
  • Breathe in completely and rapidly
  • Pause for less than 1 second
  • Place the Spirometer mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips to form a tight seal
  • Breathe out as fast and as hard as possible, until your lungs are completely empty
  • Breathe in completely and rapidly again
  • Remove the mouthpiece

You will need to repeat the test at least three times to get the best result.  Sometimes you may be asked to do the test again after having some puffs of a ‘reliever’ medicine (usually a blue- or grey-coloured puffer). The test will be done about 10 minutes after you’ve taken the ‘reliever’ to check if the medicine helps your lungs to work better.

You will need to make an appointment with your GP 1-week after your test to discuss the results.

When attending for your Spirometry test please avoid the following:

  1. Smoking – for 1 hour prior to your appointment
  2. Vigorous exercise – 30 minutes prior to your appointment
  3. Eating a substantial meal – 2 hours prior to your appointment. Fluids, other than alcohol, may be taken freely
  4. If you are unwell (eg: you have a cough/chest infection) please re-schedule your appointment.
  5. Please EMPTY YOUR BLADDER immediately prior to the test.
  6. If you use puffer medication this may need to be withheld before the test. Follow the instructions outlined below.


Withholding time before test


Eg: Asmol, Bricanyl, Ventolin

6-8 hours

LABAs with twice-daily dosing

Eg: Oxis, Serevent, Flutiform, Seretide, Symbicort

12 hours

LABAs with once-daily dosing; LAMAs; SAMAs

Eg: Breo, Bretaris, Seebri, Spiriva, Onbrez, Anoro, Brimica, Ultibro

24 hours

Note: For combination therapies containing more than one listed medicine, withhold for the longer duration.

SABA: short-acting beta2 agonist

SAMA: short-acting muscarinic antagonist (short-acting anticholinergic bronchodilator)

LABA: long-acting beta2 agonist

LAMA: long-acting muscarinic antagonist (long-acting anticholinergic bronchodilator)

Cost of the test

There is an out of pocket cost for this test. If you have a Medicare card you will be eligible for a Medicare rebate.