Using our vital capacity calculator and only the values of your age and height, 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.

What's the vital capacity equation?

The vital capacity of a person can be estimated using this equation:

  • 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), but 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 decreased.

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 FRS - functional residual volume.

This 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. The vital capacity can be used to help differentiate causes of lung disease. In restrictive lung disease, the vital capacity is decreased. In obstructive lung disease, it is usually normal or only slightly decreased.

Małgorzata Koperska, MD

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