For diagnosing asthma, your physician will study your family and medical histories, perform a physical exam and do some diagnostic tests. He will also appraise the seriousness of your symptoms and see if they are intermittent, minimal, moderate or serious. The course of treatment will depend on how the severe the symptoms are.
Your primary care giver or physician will recommend you to a specialist if you:
- Are considering availing of allergy treatments
- Use higher doses of medications , use more than one medication to better manage your asthma or if you experience a lot of problems in managing your asthma symptoms
- Experienced an asthma attack that almost led to your death
- Require special tests to correctly diagnose your asthma
Family and Medical Histories
Part of your doctor’s appointment is the doctor’s questioning you about your family history of allergies and asthma. He will ask about the asthma symptoms that you have; their frequency and reason why they develop.
You may specifically tell the doctor if the symptoms erupt at specific times of the day and year, if they worsen during nighttime or if they come out when you’re in certain places. He may be interested in knowing the things that may be triggering or worsening the asthma symptoms.
The physician will also ask if you have another medical issue that seems to interfere with the controlling of your asthma symptoms. This issue may be sleep apnea, psychological or emotional stress, reflux disease, sinus problems or a runny nose.
Using a stethoscope the physician will listen closely to your breathing and monitor for any sounds that may indicate allergies or asthma. Signs like skin allergies (eczema, for example), swollen nasal passages, a runny nose or wheezing may indicate asthma or allergy. Absence of these signs does not necessarily mean you don’t have asthma.
Lung function test – A spirometry test is applied to see how your lung functions. The spirometry test will show how much air you can inhale and exhale and also the speed you can blow air out. Restesting may be needed after the doctor gives you medications to see if the medications improved your quality of breathing. If you show improvement after taking the medications, get lower test results than normal and if a sequence of asthma symptoms if evident in your medical history, your physician may diagnose you with asthma.
- Allergy test
- Bronchoprovocation test – For this test a spirometer is again used to gauge your lung function when you are using a specific chemical to breathe in or after getting incremental amounts of cold or doing certain physical activities.
- Test to indicate if you’re suffering from another condition that has symptoms that mimic asthma. These conditions may be sleep apnea, vocal cord problems or disease.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) or chest x-ray – These tests will show if a certain disease or if any foreign object in your airways is producing your symptoms.
Asthma Diagnosis in Young Children
Asthmatic children more often than not manifest asthma symptoms before they reach the age of 5. Because asthma symptoms in these children can mimic other childhood illnesses, diagnosing their asthma is usually hard to do. A lot of children who wheeze when they have a respiratory infection or catch a cold don’t necessarily develop asthma later on. Sometimes wheezing may be due to a narrow than normal airway that becomes narrower during respiratory infections or colds. As the child grows, his airways grow as well and the wheezing eventually stops as the child matures.
A frequently wheezing child having respiratory illnesses or cold can develop asthma if he or she:
- Wheezes even without any colds or respiratory infection
- Has allergy to airborne allergens or to pollens
- Has both parents who have asthma
To diagnose asthma in young children, the doctor must analyze the child’s medical history, symptoms and signs, and perform physical examinations to formulate a diagnosis. The physician may also recommend a four to six week asthma medication therapy to see if the child gets better later on.
Emily Farish Acupuncture
400 S. Jefferson, Suite 203
Spokane, WA 99204