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asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

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Old 11-06-2004, 05:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 53
fatcatdogbog HB User
asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

does anyone know if you can have a normal peak flow reading (450, female,43,5'6) but still have symptoms. tight chest, mild wheezing, some coughing. it is not horrible, but definitely there and noticable. i am like this almost everyday. it is like i have this constant, mild persistent asthma that never gets terrible but also never goes away, even with my albuterol inhaler, plus my peak flows are basically normal, which i dont understand.

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Old 11-06-2004, 06:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 140
Gal4Dale88USP HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

Hello and welcome!
I'm still new to this Asthma stuff myself. My doc told me that about 2 or so days before I go into a flare,,,peak flow numbers would probably drop. I've been keeping an eye on those,,it seems to be true. I know I've felt short of breath,,,chest tight,,,peak flows normal also.
Hope it helps!

Old 11-06-2004, 09:12 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 86
proudmom47 HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

Hi, I also am fairly new to asthma and have a normal peak flow consistently, (450, 46, 5'3"). Sometimes mine goes up to 500 (rarely) but mine is usually 450 or 460 ALL THE TIME. However, I sometimes am short of breath and have had the spirometer test and my small airways are about 50% of normal. Keep in mind the small airways are very small, so even a little inflammation will show up significantly. My larger airways which are really the ones they watch, are pretty normal. So I really get puzzled at all of this also. After reading several other posts, though, it seems we can still have significant asthma and normal peak flows. Hope this helps!

Old 11-07-2004, 04:20 PM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2004
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fatcatdogbog HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

thanks for your response proudmom, so do you think the reason the peak flow is normal is because the problem is more in the small airways and not the larger ones? that would make sense.

Old 11-07-2004, 06:54 PM   #5
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cupcake118 HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

Yes it is possible to have what are considered normal peak flow readings and still be symptomatic. For example when I was healthy my FEV-1 is 150% predicted, so if I drop down to a normal Fev-1 that's a big drop for me.

Old 11-07-2004, 08:20 PM   #6
Join Date: Aug 2004
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proudmom47 HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

You might have a point there about normal peak flows where the inflammation seems to be mainly in the small airways! Were your small airways the ones affected? I wish more people would respond as to their spirometry numbers. I was really interested, so I had them give me a copy. Some people say they don't really know what their numbers are, but I am always curious!!My large airways were in the high eighties, by the way.

Old 11-22-2004, 01:42 PM   #7
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
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wrin HB User
Re: asthma symptoms with normal peak flow

I am just like you, one of those asthmatics whose peak flows don't start dropping until I am literally fighting for breath. I can have symptoms, even severe symptoms (like a cough that keeps me from being able to sleep at night, and wheezing I can feel in my chest,) with a borderline-normal peak flow.

Peak flows, as mentioned earlier, measure primarily the flows out of your largest airways. Your smallest airways are often the airways most affected by your asthma. According to my pulmonary function readings, I'm consistently (even with no symptoms) walking around with 40% of my lower airways running (and a borderline oxygen diffusion capacity measurement, meaning my ability to extract oxygen from the air is just barely normal when I'm feeling GOOD) and yet, my forced vital capacity is nearly normal in the 85%s, my peak flow is above 80% and dead stock normal, and my FEV1 is rarely less than 79%.

Spirometry with bronchodilator challenge is a very good way for your doctor to get an idea of what's going on airflow-wise in your airways and how well it responds to a typical rescue drug. Some people have a degree of constriction that's ever-present (and often related to inflammation) that is not relieved by bronchodilators. Also, starting new drug regimes and then taking a pulmonary function test after the drug therapy has had a chance to take effect gives the doctor a good idea as to whether the drug is working or not. It's an objective measurement that is more reliable than your peak flow meter, or even your subjective symptoms.

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