Asthma diagnoses is based on several factors: medical history, a physical exam, symptoms and test results.
The first step in diagnosing asthma is talking to us about your health and the symptoms you are experiencing. This will provide clues as to whether it is asthma or something else that is causing your symptoms.
We may examine your nose, throat and upper airways, use a stethoscope to listen to your breathing and examine your skin for signs of an allergic reaction.
We will ask if you have any of the common signs and symptoms of asthma, such as recurrent wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, symptoms that occur or worsen at night, and symptoms triggered by cold air, exercise or exposure to allergens.
Your doctor may use multiple tests to determine how well your lungs work.
This is the primary test that doctors use to diagnose asthma in people 5 years and older. You will breathe into a tube connected to a spirometer. This records both the amount of air you exhale and how quickly you do it.
If your spirometer results are normal or close to normal, your doctor may try to trigger asthma symptoms by having you inhale a substance that causes the airways to narrow in people with asthma. If you have asthma triggered by exercise, you may be asked to do physical activity to see whether it triggers symptoms. After either action, you’ll take a spirometry test. If your spirometry measurements remain normal, you probably don’t have asthma. But if your measurements have fallen significantly, it’s possible you do.
Exhaled nitric oxide test
You will breathe into a tube connected to a machine that measures the amount of nitric oxide gas in your breath. This is a gas produced by your body, but high levels in your breath can mean your airways are inflamed and is a sign of asthma.
Test Results and Diagnosis
Once a diagnosis is made, we will take the time to educate you on asthma and how it specifically affects your body. Once you have a clear picture of the challenges, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan.