Log in
British Lung Foundation
37,065 members44,195 posts

Spirometry Test results

Hi all you lovely lot,

I hope you're all keeping as well as can be expected.

I have just returned from a week away although I was reluctant to go as I didn't want to leave my mum. She was diagnosed with emphysema and a couple of other things (which seem to change with each Dr we see) and is currently on oxygen. If you look at her, you wouldn't think she had anything wrong! She is on 3lpm of oxygen for 15 hours a day, but she says it makes her feel nauseaous, dizzy and in fact worse! When she is sitting, her SATS are always around 95%, however, they do drop to around 85% when she starts walking, hence the need for oxygen. When she has the 3lpm at rest, her SATS go up to 99% which is when she feels all of the above. I'm convinced she doesn't need it at rest, or at least not 3lpm as I've read that you can end up having too much oxygen. I will speak to her respiratory nurse about this, but since her chest infection has cleared, she is feeling alot better.

I'm a bit of a google freak (I know I shouldn't as it does sometimes scare the hell out of me) and whilst I don't doubt for one minute that she has COPD, I think she may have a problem with her diaphragm. I have seen that you can have disorders of the diaphragm which can cause breathing difficulties, low oxygen levels when active due to it not going in and out at the right time if that makes sense, which can restrict the air flow. She can't really take in a deep breath because her chest won't allow her to inhale or exhale much air, which leads me to think they may be missing something. I am probably wrong, but I guess things can be missed, so I'll mention it and see how I get on!

Her last spirometry Test result was classed as 'mildly restrictive' ....

FEV1 at 1.47L of 74%

FVC of 84%

The ration of FEV1 to FVC being 84%

She is 76 years old with controlled diabetes - can anyone decipher these results into English for me please .....

Love Julie (and her Mum) xx

6 Replies


Some light reading.


1 like

Hi is she a CO2 retainer? I think you are wise to ask for more help. x


G'day Julie

If you have any concerns take the test results to the Dr or his nurse.

This may be a bit of a gamble as many Gp's and So called lung Dr's are not as proficient as they would like to be. Do not make too much of the results you have posted. As we get older the "normal" percentage is about 80% for someone in the late 60's and beyond.

Whilst the FEV1 and the FVC are good guides to use, the most important test (As part of the spirometry test) is the DLCO, sometimes referred to as the TLCO. If, as you say, your Mum has emphysema then the lung capacity becomes very important.

When a person is diagnosed with emphysema or Lung fibrosis the lungs start to shrink, which in turn shrink the lung cavity and during this period the diaphragm can " stick" to the lung. This can cause hic-cups and irregular breathing. My wife had fibrosis until 2 weeks ago when she received "new lungs."

As far as getting too much oxygen is concerned this is a matter for your Dr, however if you are concerned, get another opinion.

When we inhale we take in aprox 20% of o2 and we only transfer 15% into our lungs. The other 5% is expelled with the Co2 when we exhale.

We adopted the attitude that lesser o2 was doing so much damage to Susan's organs that my wife increased/decreased the flow to suit her needs. You can buy one of these regulators, they fit into the cannula line, close to the nose piece, and they are very inexpensive. This , of course, is only practical if the sufferer is capable of knowing how they are feeling. The patient normally knows best when they need more, less or no o2, as I found out when I questioned Susan as to why she was not using the o2.

Made me realise that as a carer I was using the old adage in telling your child to put a jumper on because you were feeling cold.

Hope my ramblings may assist you

GOD Bless


1 like

The litres of supplemental oxygen needed at rest are lower than when active. Your mum needs to be reviewed by specialist respiratory nurses with regard to her oxygen requirements, the sooner the better. If it were me, however, at rest I would decrease the flow to 1 at rest until she is properly evaluated. If that makes her feel better and her SATs don't drop below 92% she will be fine. As you said, she may not even need supplemental oxygen when she is resting given they are normally at 95%.

COPD is diagnosed by chest Xray and not spirometry tests.


Fairisle that is incorrect. COPD is diagnosed on the results of a spirometry test, not by chest xray.

Lung xrays may not show COPD but they will show the hyperinflated lungs that are part of having severe COPD.


My mum was diagnosed with emphysema , with some Dr's saying accompanied with 'possible' fibrosis of the lungs , bronchiecstasis or UIP - these findings were as a result of chest x-rays and a CT Scan. She does have regular spirometry tests which are increasing each time she has one - not by much, but every little helps I guess :)

I will get her to contact her respiratory nurse (although on the most recent letter she has from the hospital, it says she has been discharged by them!) and query her current oxygen requirements. Lung disease is so awful, however, at the moment my Mum is doing well and none of her other organs appear to have been affected (heart, kidneys etc) going by the tests she's had done, so all is going okay at the moment - it's just getting the treatment right to suit her I guess which can take a little time.

I'll continue to stick by her and update her on any information I can gather from you lovely lot!

Julie x


You may also like...