Asthma but lung test doesn't prove it? - Asthma UK communi...

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Asthma but lung test doesn't prove it?


Does anyone know if asthma always show on lung function tests?

My specialist says clinically I am symptomatic of asthma, especially in acute attacks but whilst my lung tests show some restriction she said it doesn't prove asthma.

Any ideas? :)

15 Replies
EmmaF91Community Ambassador

Hi Caroline

Lung function tests don't always categorically show asthma, although a positive reversibility test should point towards it. I 'failed' my first function test, and was going to have a bronchial challenge test (but on the day of test had an attack so positive function and reversibility test). If the signs are there and the meds are working you are more likely to be asthmatic, however it could be something else so warrants further investigation.

Hope that helps


Caroline-1 in reply to EmmaF91

Thanks Emma :)

Is that when you use the ventolin and they see if it was effective? If so, I had a positive result one time, then my next test was negative, but I was struggling with it all and don't feel I breathed as well as I could have, and they are so pushy and fast during the test!

I have recently been diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction, which mimics asthma. But you can also have asthma.

the inhalers aggravate the cords, so bit of a circle, which is why I'm trying to find out if really is asthma ;)

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Caroline-1

Yeah that's when you take the vent to improve you lung function (hopefully). Did you explain the struggle you had to your consultant? - could explain why it was positive once but not again. Yeah I can imagining having the double whammy of VCD and asthma to be a pain, esp as they mimic each other and can trigger each other... :(.

Have you spoken to an asthma nurse about it? - they tend to have more experience with the tests/results etc and more time to explain anything - though I would think that if the treatment for VCD and asthma are different, and the asthma meds help, then surely there is an element of asthma???

Caroline-1 in reply to EmmaF91

I'd love to speak to an asthma nurse - but my specialist has only just referred me to an asthma / allergy clinic - following yet another hospital admission from acute attack, where they finally diagnosed vcd part ( I now become unconscious with attacks).

She's spent all year not sure if asthma, then decided it was. I asked to see asthma clinic but she didnt make referral as said my seretide was effective. I've been unstable all year! and my local gp doesn't have asthma nurse or clinic.

I'm in Australia, which has highest rates of asthma.

Go figure 😬

EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Caroline-1

If you were over here I'd advise the Asthma UK nurses as they are really good and very supportive and can answer almost any question you have! Not sure if you have something similar over there or not. A few days ago asthma uk were responding on facebook to messages, so if you can't find anything it may be worth seeing if Asthma UK have a email you can talk to - although remember the system may be different for you in Aussieland so some advice may be different!

Sorry to hear that it's got so bad for you, hope it gets sorted soon...


DotPro in reply to Caroline-1

VCD is a result of irritation of vocal chords which can be a result of inflammation, poor mucus drainage if you have post nasal drip and then in some cases acid reflux etc. But it can also be your brain not sending right signals- meaning it can be psychological. If you are stressed, anxious or not getting enough sleep- VCD can manifest. If a diagnosis of VCD was made- it should be clear what it was based on. If it is a result of state of mind- you may need drugs to help you relax or sleep better. You need to talk to your doctor, not nurse.

Caroline-1 in reply to DotPro

It's in response to irritants - woodsmoke being the worse. I opened the door to a friend, and was unconscious within minutes from the smoke outside. Also to car fumes, gas fumes, candles, reed diffusers.

My specialists say fumes are definitely the trigger, also have allergies, but they affect the asthma side more. I think.

Stress can certainly be a part, I am a pretty chilled out person, but hard to get stressed when fumes all around me

Oops....hard not to get stressed....

I'm also doing a sleep study next Monday, you can just bet I sleep better than I have all year that night 😜

DotPro in reply to Caroline-1

Well, it is good that you know that smoke is the cause of irritation. I have the same issue- smoke and car fumes. It might help you to wear a face mask for a few days. Our environment in cities has a lot of car fumes so they may be hard to avoid. You can try to use your inhaler before going out. Then every so often, wrinse out your nose- with clean water with a neti pot or something.


Im australian too

Where are you from

I have great Lung Function, when I am well apart from an abnormal curve on exhalation. However I still have bad asthma. I also had the Metacholine challenge test, which was positive for Asthma. So a Lung Function test does not prove you have asthma. But everyone knew I had Asthma ages before I did the Challenge test, I only had as I was up for a trial, and my Asthma had to be within a certain range to meet the trial criteria. Asthma drugs work pretty well most of the time.


Ps the Metacholine challenge test is not very pleasant so avoid unless doctors insist.

Caroline-1 in reply to risabel59

Thats interesting, thanks :)

I did a ?mannitol test last year which was negative, but I was on my seretide as tried stopping and too unstable. But was it vcd attacks instead of asthma? ( I wasn't diagnised vcd at that time, and they can mimic asthma ones).

I've recently stopped my preventer to see if get any asthma attacks - or if they are vcd ones ( I know more about them now)

It's a confusing world of asthma isn't it!


Hi it sounds like there is something wrong but if it's not asthma then I think you need to ask for further tests to determine what if anything is wrong.

I would request a CT scan as this will pick up a lot more than a lung function test and even an x-ray. You have to be proactive to get any help these days. Good luck with it all.

Yes it is very possible.

Took my doctors two years in my case to figure out. Especially for cough variant asthma or upper airway cough syndrome. Some may even think you are simply having panick or anxiety attacks.

In CVA your lung function tests will probably be normal.

However during acute attacks you will still have bronchospasms which reduce amount of air you are getting. You will feel a tightness or a change in energy levels, weakness or tingling. Symptoms may vary. I wonder what your symptoms are?

Caroline-1 in reply to DotPro

Hi dot,

My symptoms vary so much because of the vcd, which makes it confusing,

I can get quick attacks, where ventolin helps, and I'm ok.

Others where it doesn't ( now know vcd attacks).

Then others times slow build ones, very tired, weak coughing, tender /heavy to chest and upper respiratory: which is the hard part for me, as I can't isolate if lungs or feels all over.

Sometimes productive cough with moderate about of phlegm. Others times it's so bad I have to stand over toilet and it vomits up (sorry!) recovery takes me much longer after those ones.

Other ones are vcd only, easier to tell now.

Vcd and asthma can trigger each other, or seperate attacks.

I just want to know if asthma is a part of it, because if it isn't like then I can stop the inhalers ( which aggravate the vcd).

Nothing's easy is it :)

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