Lung Age

Are your lungs ageing faster than you?

The lungs are a vital organ in your body, taking around 12-20 breaths a minute. This is where the oxygen in the air that you breathe is transferred into your blood stream and exchanged with carbon dioxide. This process is vital for life.

In adulthood, your lung capacity will naturally reduce as you grow older and in healthy people this will not usually result in any symptoms. However some people will find that their lung function reduces at a faster rate than others, causing long term health problems. This can be down to a number of factors, some of which you can influence.

Your lungs take around 12 – 20 breaths per minute

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a condition which affects the lungs and has been diagnosed in around 1.2 million people in the UK. Around 25,000 people in the UK die from the condition every year. It is a progressive, non-reversible disease with symptoms including coughing, wheezing and breathlessness – particularly during any increase in effort or exercise.

Of course, it is possible to see your lungs age more slowly than your natural lung age if you keep fit and healthy throughout your life.

Looking after your lungs

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid passive smoking
  • Prevent inhalation of dust particles
  • Eat healthily
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage any lung conditions

How do I look after my lungs?

Stop smoking

Smoking causes long-term damage to your lungs because the toxins in tobacco narrow the airways and damage the alveoli – small air sacs where oxygen is transferred from your lungs into the blood stream. In addition, small hairs in the lungs called cilia are restricted or damaged completely so their function of ‘cleaning’ the lungs cannot be performed.

Avoid passive smoking

Passive smoking can be equally harmful as smoking itself as the damaging toxins are inhaled through second hand smoke. Wherever possible steer clear of smokers.

Prevent inhalation of fine dust particles

If you have a job which exposes you to high levels of fine dust particles e.g. on building sites or bicycle courier, it is important that you take actions to limit the amount that you inhale. Wearing a face mask can help to reduce their intake.

Diet & exercise

Having a healthy diet – low in saturated fat, salt and sugar and high in fruit and vegetables, as well as limiting alcohol intake, helps to keep your lungs healthy and avoid infection.

Manage lung conditions

If you have already been diagnosed with COPD or asthma you are likely to be prescribed medication by your doctor. By adhering to the dosage instructions you have been given, you will reduce the impact that the condition has on your lungs and be supported in managing the symptoms. If you have any questions about this or need advice on how to take your medication properly, ask your pharmacist.

Is a Lung Age test right for you*?

Are you a smoker or an ex-smoker?

Do you have difficulty in breathing – during activities like climbing the stairs?

If your answer is yes to one or both of the above questions, you may want to ask your nearest participating Alphega Pharmacy for more information about having a Lung Age test.

You can also check the age of your lungs as a preventive measure, even if you feel fit and healthy. 

*for customers 18yrs and above


Preparing for a Lung Age test

Taking the Lung Age test is very quick and simple. To ensure the most accurate results, please avoid the following things for at least 3 hours prior to taking your Lung Age test:

Sports & exercise

Eating heavy meals


Taking the Lung Age test

To take the Lung Age test you will be asked to breathe out through a single-use mouthpiece, which is connected to the Lung Age device.

You will need to exhale into the machine as quickly as possible.

The machine requires you to complete the test three times as it will then select the most reliable of the three measurements as the final result.


Understanding your results

You can review the results of the test with a member of the pharmacy team and will be able to take home a Lung Age Test Report which contains information about:

  • Your Lung Age vs your real age

  • Whether the airflow from your lungs flows at a normal speed, or if there is some form of obstruction (obstruction level and COPD level)

If your Lung Age is higher than your real age, this may be due to a variety of reasons.

Therefore we would advise you to visit your GP with your results, so that further investigations can be done to establish the cause of abnormal reading.


Almost anyone over the age of 18 can have a Lung Age test. The only groups of people who are excluded are those who cannot blow hard and fast enough to get an accurate measurement.

Please contact your Alphega Pharmacy team to find out if there is a charge for this service.

You will be asked to blow as hard and as fast as you can through a single-use mouthpiece, attached to the Lung Age device, for six seconds. This will be repeated twice and the device will select your ‘best’ measurement.

The Lung Age device will measure your Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV)1 – the amount of air you can blow out in one second and FEV6 – the amount of air you can exhale in six seconds.

You will be given three  results:

  • Obstructive index – the scale used to indicate whether the rate at which you exhale air is normal or if there is some form of obstruction
  • COPD GOLD classification – the scale used to categorise the extent to which someone is displaying symptoms of COPD
  • Lung Age – a comparison of your lungs’ age versus your real age

If any of your results show that there is anything untoward your pharmacist will give you the appropriate advice, and you will then be given a copy of your report and letter to give to your GP.

Your pharmacy team can advise you on ways to improve your lungs’ health such as giving you help to stop smoking, improve your diet or increase the amount of exercise you take. They stock a range of products to help with this should you need them.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a collective name for a number of different lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

COPD interferes with the way you breathe and cannot be fully reversed. Symptoms of COPD can include breathlessness, wheezing and persistent chesty coughs. Breathing difficulties tend to get worse as you get older, however the correct medication can keep symptoms at bay.  

COPD can be caused by different factors such as smoking or long-term exposure to fine dust or particles – anything which can cause the airways to become restricted or damaged.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD.