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Asthma Diagnosis

Asthma Diagnosis

Health professionals will ask about any symptoms you have and how severe they are, when, where they happen, how often they happen, and what triggers and relieves them. These data will assist your health professionals find ways to help prevent asthma attacks. Your doctor also will want to know about your personal history of allergies and respiratory illnesses, as well as your family history of asthma, allergies and respiratory illnesses.

Health professionals will listen to your back with a stethoscope to detect wheezing. During an asthma attack, health professionals can assess the severity of your flare-up by listening for the amount of airflow and by looking at how you are using your chest muscles to breathe. Bluish lips or skin are a sign that you are not getting sufficient oxygen.

Other tests that can be done include a measurement of the speed of the air you can exhale forcibly. It is done with a small, hand-held device called a peak-flow meter. Second test, called pulse oximetry, measures oxygen levels in your blood and is done by placing a small plastic clip on the tip of your finger.

In the period of asthma flare-up, blood tests may be needed to check for signs of an elevated white blood cell count, which may indicate that whether you have an infection. Further test, called an arterial blood gas (ABG), can be done on blood drawn from your wrist to measure oxygen levels more accurately.Some health professionals also may want you to have a chest X-ray.

Here are 2 tests that can show how well your lungs are functioning, and can aid to diagnose asthma and measure its severity:

  • Spirometry – you exhale into a device that analyzes the amount and volume of airflow. More frequently the test may be repeated after you are given a medication, called a bronchodilator, that relaxes the muscles surrounding the airways to improve airflow. If airflow improves after using a bronchodilator, this is an indication that you have asthma. Sometimes, a challenge Cautionary test is done, especially when spirometry appears normal. In this method, you inhale a medication (usually methacholine) to see if it provokes a measurable contraction of the airway muscles (bronchospasm). Asthma patients are more sensitive to this medication.
Asthma Diagnosis

Spirometer

  

  • Peak-flow meter – a small portable tube measures the speed of air expelled when you blow forcibly through it. These devices often are given to asthmatic patients for use at home to monitor their asthma and help to detect the earliest signs of an asthma flare-up for prevention of asthma.
Peak Flow

Peak Flow Meter

If medical professionals suspects that your asthma is being triggered by allergens, and the symptoms cannot be treated or controlled easily with medications, a blood test or allergy skin testing may be done. The blood test,  radioallergosorbent test (RAST), looks for antibodies to potential specific allergens.
Allergy skin testing, the skin is exposed to weak dilutions of different potential allergens either by pricking the skin with the allergen or using a patch taped to the skin for several days. If  redness and swelling appears at the injection area, you are allergic to that substance.

Asthma Duration Period

Asthma in adults often is a lifelong condition. In proper treatment, symptoms can be controlled and can be infrequent or very mild. Mostly children with asthma, it can go away on its own or become less severe over time. However, it often reappears later in life if proper care is not taken.

In many instances asthma can go away on their own or with the aid of asthma medications. Asthma attacks change in frequency and severity, often the cause on which triggers causes the attack.

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