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A 49-year-old female asked about a 17-year-old female:

Does a person need to have a pulmonary function test to rule out asthma? dr. didn't think asthma. ekg, cbc, blood clotting test, chest x-ray all normal. covid negative. still feeling a little shortness of breath. always been athlete. no problems?

3 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Asthma can be diagnosed clinically if there is recurrent wheezing or recurrent coughing associated with the symptoms (like shortness of breath). If a pulmonary function test shows obstruction, a bronchodilator is given-if the obstruction is relieved, asthma is present. If there is no obstruction on the PFT, methacholine can be given-if obstruction then develops, asthma is likely present. Good luck
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 33 years experience
No, not in typical teen patients. However, pulmonary function testing machines are common and available in most cities. Athlete's are not typical teens in that athletes need maximal performance from their breathing, daily in training and especially on "race day". A person with mysterious breathing symptoms, especially an athlete, can go to an Asthma/Allergy/Lung doctor to get a pulmonary test.
Dr. Jeffrey Stein
Vascular Surgery 39 years experience
Shortness of breath can be caused by many conditions including asthma. A PFT does not "rule out" asthma but may confirm a diagnosis, assess severity, and evaluate response to treatment. Asthma is reactive airway disease and in between episodes pulmonary function may be normal, especially in someone who is young and otherwise healthy.

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Last updated May 28, 2021
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