Newbie who needs advice!

Good Morning everyone,

Thank you if you have started to read this, I am sure you get lots of newbies on here looking for advice, so I thank you for your patience.

I have a question about spirometry (lung function tests) and I wonder if anyone can help me?

My basic history is this - I had a cough for over four and a half months at the beginning of the year - I had antibiotics and a chest x-ray (which came back clear) and yet it persisted. Eventually the doctor gave me a ventolin inhaler, and as if by magic the cough improved and eventually disappeared completely. I also found that i would need to sigh a lot, as if to fill my lungs properly. The Dr was happy for me to continue to take the ventolin as he said that it sounded as though i had developed asthma. He said to me that he was happy for me to just continue to take the ventolin as and when i needed it (which is still several times a week to today) but said he could send me for lung function tests to confirm asthma.

I went for the tests - and everything was fine - within normal ranges - and now i am very confused! Could this mean that i don't actually have asthma? I am not one to self-diagnose but have had a look at the symptoms on this site and many of them make sense to me. If i hadnt have had the lung function test i would have still been happy that i have asthma - especially as the ventolin stops me coughing and eases my breathing within seconds.

Sorry if i am rambling but i am very new to all of this and more then a little confused. The nurse who did the test advised me to make an appointment with the doctor - which i have for tomorrow - but i wondered if there was anyone here who could help put my mind at ease a little with thier own experience.

Thank you if you managed to get to the end of this!

Kind regards

Mem xx

11 Replies

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  • hello

    glad to meet someone who seem the same as me , i have the cough and tight chest, using inhaler , but test come back clear and oxygen levels are good.

    so like you not sure if i have asthma or not. on antibiotics at the moment . have you heard about cough variant asthma ? been checking on the internet .the cold weather set min off.

  • Hi and welcome!

    This does sound rather like me, though I'm a bad example because my lungs confuse everyone lol - they don't behave as they 'should' with asthma, but then like you when I came on here I was thinking 'well there are these people with 'definite' asthma and their symptoms do sound really similar to mine' - plus (eventually) I also found the meds helped.

    As far as I know you can have asthma but get 'normal' spirometry - for a start they could just have got you at a good time. Asthma is 'reversible airway obstruction' so if you're not having symptoms it's possible to have normal spirometry. I also have a theory (and this is just in my head so don't take it as fact or anything) that in the same way some people have best peak flows that are lower or higher than usual, the same might apply to spirometry - so my best PF is 600, best predicted is about 470 therefore I'd kind of expect my real best spirometry to be higher than predicted too? But like I said this may just be complete rubbish - I've not really managed to get an answer out of drs or anything, as I think they have to use the best predicted for spirometry since it's not like you can do lots of readings at home like you can with peak flow to work out your personal best.

    I am also rambling now oops...but good luck with the doctor tomorrow! If you are having symptoms a lot don't let them tell you you're fine and don't need anything, as if it is asthma and you're using a lot of Ventolin you may need a preventer inhaler. It might be worth ringing the helpline on here if you're still confused after seeing the doctor and haven't got anywhere (number top left) - the nurses are very helpful.

  • On my latest spirometry I got figures ranging from 80 to 119% for various bits and pieces, so classed as normal. When you're well and have no symptoms spirometry should come back normal. This doesn't mean you don't have asthma. My asthma team keep a record of my spirometry tests as they like to compare one test with another to see if things are improving or not.

    If the test is normal when you do have symptoms, then they need to investigate further to be sure of what is causing the symptoms.

    I hope your appoinment goes well tomorrow. One course of action they might take is to trial a preventer inhaler.

  • Thank you all so much for your replies. Its so nice to find some helpful and knowledgeable people.

    I went to the dr this morning and she said that the normal spirometry results went against a diagnosis of asthma! She did listen and wants to look into it further so i have been given a peak flow meter to use for a fortnight. I have to test myself twice a day and record the results, then make an appointment to go back and discuss things with her.

    *sigh*

    Hope everyone has a great day, and thank you for your advice

    Mem x

  • Hi all,

    I hope someone out there can help. I just found out my baby who turned one end of last week has asthma. Though I'm glad to have an answer to why she was always coughing and wheezing and suffering from continus phlegm in her throat and on her chest and the numerous chest infections she was always getting. I don't know anything about how often I should I give her inhaler, if she has a temper tantrum what do I do as this brings on the asthma do I just wait for her to finish screaming and risk her being really bad or give in to save the asthma but risk her being slightly spoilt?!

    Also as a baby she doesn't understand whats happening to her and to be honest I don't really know myself not having asthma.

    I also panick the minute she starts coughing. I just need to know if there are any mum's and dads out there who understand what I'm going through and give me any tips on how to manage her astma. Sorry for writing so much. Hope to get talking to some of you soon.

    Cash79

  • Urgh, a normal spirometry doesn't rule out asthma. It could mean that you don't have asthma, but it could also mean that you have asthma but were well at the time.

    It might be a good idea to record your peak flow when you have symptoms too. And if you take ventolin then record your peak flow before you take it and again 5 minutes after.

    X

  • Hi, Ive been asthmatic most of my life & over the last year it has been really bad, I had to spend a lot of time in hospital. I also had an appointment every Week for 3 months at the chest clinic where they did tests after tests, all of the lung function tests & peak flows were normal but I was still unable to breathe, my best peak flow is 580 but my predicted is 415 ish so well above 'normal' even when I was struggling 2 breathe most of the time I could blow over 400 on the peak flow meter. After a very long year they managed to get it under control with a lot of extra asthma meds. My consultant & asthma nurse seems to think the reason why I was able to get test that showed up as normal was because I was very active before I got ill it made my lung capacity which would mean the 'normal' readings for me would be a lot higher than someone else who is the same height & age as me so they never go by what the textbook says people should be doing they go by the individual person & their symptoms. Maybe this is the same for you?

  • Hey,

    I dont really have anything constructive to say with regards to your post, but I just wanted to fly by and say ""hey, and welcome"" c:

    Xxx

  • Hi Mem,

    the sighing you mentioned has grabbed my attention. I have Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS) and sighing/yawning/air hunger is a really key symptom, and as it's overbreathing lung function tests are usually normal. I spent ages arguing with my asthma nurse that struggling to breathe in not out and always having high saturations (usually 98-99% when they should really be 96-98%) pointed away from asthma before she finally listened and pointed me in the direction of this website:

    hyperventphysio.org

    There's a questionnaire on there that you can answer about your symptoms and it'll suggest whether you might be overbreathing.

    Saxassoon

  • Hi,

    Just wanted to say - good point from Saxassoon but as someone who's been told - as it turns out, wrongly - that I 'just' had hyperventilation and not asthma at all: it can co-exist with other things including asthma. My GP said to me 'yes, maybe you are hyperventilating but I've never met an asthmatic who doesn't at times'! Struggling to breathe can mess up your breathing pattern and make symptoms worse and it can definitely be hard to pick out what's what; if you find a lot of the symptoms on that site fit it may be worth asking to see a respiratory physio, but there can be more than one thing going on at once; physio didn't do much for me till I got some helpful medication, but on the other hand I'm still seeing a physio to work on the other side of things ie the fact that when I exercise my 'good' breathing at rest goes out the window!

    Lou also has a good point though - obviously you do want to keep an open mind and not cling to asthma as a diagnosis if it really doesn't fit, but luckily it sounds like your GP is open-minded and looking into things so crossed fingers you come up with some solution, whatever it is. I did find trialling medication was a good approach for me.

  • It is frustrating when you go to the docs with terrible asthma, and I don't go to them lightly, but the peak flow is above average and they can't see what's wrong with you. Salbutamol helps, so whatever

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