Pulmonary Function Tests
by Editorial Staff and Contributors
Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are a group of tests that show how well your lungs are working. PFTs may measure:
Reasons for Test
PFTs may be used to help diagnose or check the affect of lung conditions or diseases, such as:
These tests may also be done to:
There are no major problems linked to these tests.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
Description of Test
The exact steps will depend on the reason for the test. Most tests will ask you to breathe into a device. Examples include a spirometer or peak flow meter. They can measure the force of breath.
You may be asked to breathe in and out in different patterns and speeds. You will rest between tests.
Tell the care team right away if you have breathing problems, pain, or dizziness during the test.
Other steps that may be needed include:
Rest until you feel able to leave. You may have wheezing, coughing, and/or problems breathing. It will be treated before you leave.
How Long Will It Take?
20 to 45 minutes
Will It Hurt?
The test does not hurt. You may feel some symptoms during or right after testing.
Your doctor will compare the results of your tests with normal values. The results will also be compared to previous tests. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
American Lung Association
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Pulmonary function tests. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated May 27, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive (COPD): Quality of Life. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 28, 2018. Accessed March 22, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 3/30/2018
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