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. In most cases, the procedure will be as follows:
You may be given medicine to inhale after certain tests. The tests will then be repeated after the medicine has started to work.
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 checked with tests you may have already done. 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
The Lung Association
Pulmonary function tests. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated March 20, 2019. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive (COPD): Quality of Life. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:
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Updated December 28, 2018. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 8/7/2020