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Can I Have Asthma With A Normal Pulmonary Function Test?

Posted by Mark Bubak, M.D. on Nov 15, 2019 9:42:49 AM

The simple answer is—Yes. A normal pulmonary function test is actually our goal for every asthmatic!


So, let’s explain:
A spirometry test (the main asthma pulmonary function test measuring the FEV1) tells us how much airway narrowing is present at the time of the test. The test involves breathing out forcefully into a mouthpiece connected to a spirometer machine.

FEV1 is the amount of air you can force from your lungs in one second.

By definition, asthma is a reversible airway disease. Asthma severity varies by what triggers are currently affecting the patient, what controllers are being used, and what relievers are in use.

With an asthma flare or poor asthma control the FEV1 normally falls. With treatment it improves.

A normal pulmonary function test is found in an asthmatic who:

  1. Is controlled
  2. Has cough asthma


The main symptom of cough asthma is a dry, non-productive cough, which means the cough does not expel any mucus. People with cough asthma may or may not have other "classic" asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath, but often do not.

If you have symptoms of asthma but have a normal pulmonary function test, your doctor may recommend additional tests to confirm an asthma diagnosis. For example, at times we need to know that the bronchial tubes are more reactive (as is found in asthmatics). In those cases, either a methacholine or an exercise challenge can be performed.


If you have already been diagnosed with asthma, you should be sure to periodically have spirometry done to ensure your asthma is actually under control, there are many ways to help manage your asthma. Many patients get used to having decreased lung function and adjust their life so the symptoms aren’t provoked. Your allergist has many options to maximize your lung function and get you to your maximal lung function.

So the answer is yes, a normal pulmonary function test is the goal for asthmatics.

Topics: Managing Asthma