spirometery testing

ok something isn't making any sense here, my younger sister who has no history of asthma or allergy etc recently developed quite bad hayfever and shortness of breath during excersise, she had some lung function tests including reversibility testing which confirmed mild asthma. However she never coughs never gets chest cold and she is very fit.

Then there seem to be alot of people on this forum in the same situation as me, who have a history of asthma, get loads of chest infections, have been in hospital yet have normal lung function readings,I am due to have more lung function tests in 2 weeks time and I'm dreading it because I no they are likely to come back as normal like last time.

So really how can this be? how can someone have very few symptoms and abnormal lung function results. and then someone have loads symptoms etc and have normal results! anyone have any ideas? was thinking maybe these tests are not as reliable as they seem?


13 Replies

  • I wish I knew the answer to this one...and also sympathise with just general hating LF and them being confusing.

    My theory (have prob said this loads before) - and this is just a theory and I have no real proof, plus I can see the reasoning behind it as you can't really do LF at home and get your personal best as with PF - is that it's at least partly to do with people's personal bests being higher than predicted. I'm considered ok and within 80% if I blow 2.80 on FEV1, because my predicted is 3.43 - but I've done 4.51 after having Ventolin, so clearly I'm capable of doing better than my predicted and therefore maybe 2.80 is not so great...

    On the other hand if your sister is fairly fit would expect her to maybe have better than predicted? So don't know really...sorry this is not much help! Crossing fingers tests are not too bad and useful for once, I hate them.

  • Hey lejaya!!

    My thoughts are, its because spirometries are just super horrid!! Haha

    No in all seriousness, lung functions are not always the best as if you are having a particular reasonable day you can blow an amazing result, they can also be effected by upper respiratory problems also.

    Just because they come back normal however, doesnt mean you dont have asthma. Many people can blow a perfectly great lung function which may seem odd because of the symptoms that they get so often but these reading may be incorrect or slightly off as many with dysfunctional breathing can blow an amazing result yet be very symptomatic.

    Have you ever thought about asking the respirstory technitions or ur doctors to explain ur results!?

    Try not to compare yourself to your sister though as we are not all textbook style which can be very off putting!!

    Hope clinic goes well next week, will be thinking about u!!


    Ps, hope the above makes some form of sense!?

  • Hi,

    If it makes you feel better I have brittle asthma but can get better than predicted results on q good day.

    Work that one out! Lol!!

    I think you just need to look at the overall picture with asthma.


  • thanks for all the replies, my problem is that if my next set of tests are also normal my cons will probably say I don't have asthma.

    My last test were also normal and every time I saw my cons and said my chest had been bad, I was met with ""but your lung function tests were normal"" this went on for 3 YEARS! they more or less acted like they didn't beleive I could have bad asthma due to my readings. They then tried to blame everything on reflux! I dread to think what they will say the problem is this time! Im so worried they are going to say it's all in my head or I'm just ""over breathing.""

    Now I no I over breathe slightly this was picked up by my respiratory nurse but does not account for all my symptoms or trips to hospital etc

    sorry for the rant but i'm just really dreading them!

    sad face :(


  • Hello lejaya, sorry coming slightly late to this thread.

    Oh I certainly too know the feeling of lung function being normal and even better than predicted too. As the others have said, it may illustrate the variability of asthma as does the case with your sister. Do I remember correctly you have been to RBH too? If so, I get the impression, they will generally work with you to find the correct diagnosis and treatment and are quite friendly and approachable.

    Good luck with your cons appt - these can rather be frustrating especially if they say it's all in your head or just ""over breathing."", not exactly a helpful approach for you to cope with.

  • hi tj thanks for your reply, I haven't been to the rbh,and part of my is kinda glad cause they will almost certainly say it is not asthma and perform loads of other tests! I see a cons at kings college hospital I usually see someone different each time due the respiratory team being rather large! but I saw a really nice lady last time who seemed to have more of an open mind so hopefully i will see her next wed! I mentioned all my symptoms to her including the rather strange ""itchy lungs!"" and she was the one who ordered the tests including bloods for allergies etc

    I just have a feeling that this time next week if my tests are normal again they will be looking at other causes.


  • oh that's annoying when it's someone different every time! I used to have that but have learned that it's generally because when one of the doctors finishes with a patient they just pick up the next file, so it completely depends on who's free when your file is at the front (unless they have some arrangement - I've also had it where I've been seen by same person so assume they have diff system).

    My cons at St Mary's told me how it works when you see diff ppl every time, and said if I wanted to see him again (he wanted some consistency and to 'get to know me'), I should specifically ask to see him at the front desk when I arrive and check in. So might be worth a try when you go to ask if the dr you last saw who was helpful is in clinic and if so could you see her? They may not all have the same system but suspect they do from what you've said about seeing diff people (oddly enough I'm hoping at RBH to see the reg not the cons next week).

    Is your appt on Wed? Am in for mine then, will think of you - I hate appts even without LF and am not looking forward to it! But definitely best of luck and hope you get something helpful out of it. Would agree with TJ (well, pending next week argghh, who knows what will happen?) re RBH if that's an option - I felt like I might be wasting their time because they deal with people who are really severe which I'm not, but though they can be annoyingly disorganised and have felt frustrated at times, they can also be helpful and fairly open-minded and aren't dismissing it all as 'in my head' - in fact they often reassure me they don't think it's in my head/due to anxiety etc, without me even saying anything!

  • about 4 months ago ive been diagnosed with asthma they gave me a PF test and i managed to get 710 but ye still said i had asthma , when i asked for more lung function tests to be done by asthma nurse said she wouldnt because it would be pointless i would pass them too easily lol!!

    went to the docs on tuesday and she tested my peak flow after not using a preventer inhaler for like a month and my peak flow is now over 800 haha and yet she still thinks i have asthma or what she said is ""There are allergens in the air that cause you to have asthma""

    when she told me this , it made me wonder whether or not i actually have an allergy to dust or maybe pollen and my body's reaction is to cause asthmatic symptoms......what if asthma isnt a disease at all but instead symptoms of something else? it made me think ........ what if asthma treatment only releives the problems what if they are missing the cause altogether??

  • hi browny

    and wow your peak flow is amazing! mine almost never goes above 400 and my last set of lung function tests were also normal but my cons just said that my asthma seemed to of ""settled down"" whatever that means seeing as it is a variable condition and he told me to take loratadine for permanant cold symptoms. I'm starting to wonder if there is any point in doing lung function tests again seeing as I can't choose when I have them eg when I actually have symptoms!

    Although I have heard of people who only get asthma symptoms when the pollen count is high or when they excersise so maybe you are right! Asthma is such a confusing condition!


  • well see is it not to far fetched to say with everyone's diverse biochemistry that instead of getting the usual symptoms of a rash and puff face ect when exposed to the allergens we instead react in a way that imitates more of an asthmatic sufferer instead of lets say someone allergic to pollen or dust.

    I mean i even read about 2 independent studies in the USA and in Sweden i think it was , that have been able to cure people of asthma by treating them with Zithromax an anti viral drug . they have linked it the an airborne strain of the chlamydia virus which sits in the lungs. its already known to cause respiratory infections and illnesses like bronchitis.

    I mean by no means am i saying everyone run and get some anti viral drugs its only been a small scale test not nearly enough data has been collected and not to mention taking anti viral drugs when you don't actualy have a virus isn't a good idea tbh . but at least people are taking a more critical thinking approach to asthma as they once did

  • Lejaya, hope you're managing ok now.

    Browny, Zithromax is a brand name for Azithromycin an antibiotic not an antiviral. It appears it may help with chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria again not a virus. This may only apply to and potentially help a few people. It is not a good idea to post this stating it may have been found to be a cure and get such basic principles wrong. Some people here are taking it longterm but more using anti-inflammatory than anti-bacterial properties.

  • Thanks TJ for correcting that inaccurate info :) I have been on azithromycin for about 3 years. Like you said, I was put on it not just for its antibacterial properties but its anti-inflammatory action too. It's not made a massive difference unfortunately but it seems to be a game of achieving those minimal gains in my case... I was originally started on it when misdiagnosed with bronchiectasis by the local hospital, which thankfully I don't have! But Papworth wanted me to stay on it due to my asthma and recurrent infections.

    Lynda :)

  • Thanks tj, but I have just started with what is probably a chest infection, kinda wish it had started last week when I had the tests!

    was also kinda hoping for a reduction in my meds but maybe next time! hope you are doing well!


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