Vital Capacity Calculator

Created by Małgorzata Koperska, MD and Dominika Śmiałek, MD, PhD candidate
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Steven Wooding
Based on research by
Baldwin, E. D.; Cournand, A.; Richards, D. W., Jr Pulmonary insufficiency; physiological classification, clinical methods of analysis, standard values in normal subjects Medicine (September 1948)See 1 more source
Lampe, R., Blumenstein, T., Turova, V., Alves-Pinto, A. Lung vital capacity and oxygen saturation in adults with cerebral palsy Patient preference and adherence (December 2014)
Last updated: Aug 16, 2022

Using our vital capacity calculator and only the values of your age and height (plus knowing your gender), you can estimate the volume of air that flows through your lungs.

In contrast to the lung capacities calculated from spirometric measurements, this calculator uses a vital capacity equation that estimates the theoretical, predicted value.

Read on if you're interested to know how to calculate vital capacity on your own or what formula we used here.

We try our best to make our Omni Calculators as precise and reliable as possible. However, this tool can never replace professional medical advice.

What's the vital capacity equation?

The vital capacity of a person can be estimated using this equation developed by Baldwin et al.:

  • For females:

    height × (21.78 - 0.101 × age)

  • For males:

    height × (27.63 - 0.112 × age)

In these formulas, the height should be given in centimeters (cm), and the result is expressed in cubic centimeters (cm³). However, you can easily switch between metric and imperial units by clicking on the unit name in the calculator.

How to calculate vital capacity?

  1. Choose whether you're male or female – the vital capacity equation differs slightly, depending on the given sex.

  2. Enter your age in years.

  3. Enter your height in preferred units.

  4. The calculated vital capacity is shown in the last field of the calculator.

A healthy person's vital capacity should be between 3 and 5 liters. This value depends on age, sex, weight, height, and ethnicity.

The vital capacity is a parameter used to differentiate between the causes of lung diseases. If it's decreased, it points to the diagnosis of restrictive lung disease, whereas in the case of obstructive lung disease, the VC is usually normal or slightly reduced.

What's the total lung, inspiratory, and vital capacity formula?

The pulmonary function is checked in a ventilatory test called spirometry. During the examination, four lung volumes are measured:

  • IRV – Inspiratory reserve volume;
  • TV – Tidal volume;
  • ERV – Expiratory reserve volume; and
  • RV – Residual volume.

To interpret the results, four so-called lung capacities should be calculated:

  • TLC – Total lung capacity;
  • IC – inspiratory capacity;
  • VC – vital capacity; and
  • FRC – functional residual capacity.

The following is the vital capacity formula based on lung volume measurements:

VC = IRV + TV + ERV

where:

  • IRV – Inspiratory reserve volume;
  • TV – Tidal volume;
  • ERV – Expiratory reserve volume.

Using this equation can give a different result to the one provided in this calculator.

We can use the vital capacity to help differentiate the causes of lung disease. In restrictive lung disease, the vital capacity is decreased. In obstructive lung disease, it is usually normal or only slightly reduced.

💡 We may also measure the forced respiratory volumes. Forced vital capacity is used, for example, in computing the FEV1/FVC ratio.

Małgorzata Koperska, MD and Dominika Śmiałek, MD, PhD candidate
Sex
Female
Age
years
Height
in
Vital capacity
liters
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