Inspiratory Capacity Calculator

Estimates the IC based on the inspiratory reserve and the tidal volume.

In the text below the form you can find more information about this and about the other three respiratory capacities.

The inspiratory capacity calculator uses the inspiratory reserve and the tidal volume to estimate the IC in litres.

This is one of the determinations performed in lung capacity testing and offers information about the work of the lungs.

IC is used in the diagnosis of both obstructive and respiratory disease.

The formula used to calculate inspiratory capacity is:

IC = Inspiratory reserve volume (IRV) + Tidal volume (TV)


■ IRV normal value is approximately 3 L;

■ TV normal value is 0.5 litres per breath at a respiratory rate of 12 to 20 bpm;

■ IC normal average values: 5 L for males and 2.4 L for females.

Inspiratory reserve volume
Tidal volume
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Steps on how to print your input & results:

1. Fill in the calculator/tool with your values and/or your answer choices and press Calculate.

2. Then you can click on the Print button to open a PDF in a separate window with the inputs and results. You can further save the PDF or print it.

Please note that once you have closed the PDF you need to click on the Calculate button before you try opening it again, otherwise the input and/or results may not appear in the pdf.


Variables and formula

The inspiratory capacity is one of the four pulmonary capacities. It is based on the inspiratory reserve volume and on tidal volume, which are both determined during lung function tests (spirometry).

Inspiratory reserve volume represents the maximal volume of air that can be forcefully inhaled after a normal (tidal) inspiration. This is equal to approximately 3 litres.

Tidal volume is the normal amount of air circulated during normal inspiratory and expiratory processes. This is approximately 500 mL at a normal respiratory rate of 12 to 20 breaths per minute.

Inspiratory capacity formula = Inspiratory reserve volume + Tidal volume

In short: IC = IRV + TV

When determined via spirometry, normal average values for inspiratory capacity are 3.5 L for men and 2.4 L for women.

IC offers information about the volume of air that can be inhaled, during normal and forced inspiration. This is particularly useful in the diagnosis and severity evaluation of both obstructive and restrictive lung disease.

A reduction in both inspiratory and total lung capacity can be observed in obstructive respiratory diseases like COPD.


Lung capacities explained

There are four lung capacities: the IC described above, the vital capacity, the functional residual capacity and the total lung capacity.

The vital capacity is the sum of inspiratory and expiratory reserve volumes and of tidal volume and indicates the maximum amount of air possible to be expelled after a maximum inhalation.

Normal average values in adults are between 3 and 5 L and depend on patient gender, age, weight, height and even ethnicity.

Lower than normal values may indicate restrictive lung disease (e.g. pulmonary fibrosis, pneumothorax) whilst higher than normal values are characteristic for obstructive lung disease (e.g. asthma).

The functional residual capacity is based on expiratory reserve and residual volume and represents the amount of air that remains in the lungs at the end of passive expiration. An increase in FRC is consistent with emphysema.

The total lung capacity is the sum of all respiratory volumes (inspiratory reserve, tidal, expiratory reserve and residual). It is impacted by physiological changes in old age, by patient weight, by diaphragm pressure and by restrictive pulmonary diseases.



1. Ricard JD. Are we really reducing tidal volume--and should we? Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2003; 167(10):1297-8.

2. Lisboa C, Leiva A, Pinochet R, Repetto P, Borzone G, Díaz O. Reference values for inspiratory capacity in healthy nonsmokers over age 50 years. Arch Bronconeumol. 2007; 43(9):485-9.

3. Zaman M, Mahmood S, Altayeh A. Low inspiratory capacity to total lung capacity ratio is a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation. Am J Med Sci. 2010; 339(5):411-4.

Specialty: Pulmonology

System: Respiratory

Objective: Determination

Type: Calculator

No. Of Variables: 2

Article By: Denise Nedea

Published On: June 23, 2017

Last Checked: June 23, 2017

Next Review: June 23, 2023