An asthma diagnosis can be a scary finding. If you are having breathing problems, there may be any number of reasons why. You may be suffering from a bad cold, sinusitis, or even just allergies.
If, however, you experience shortness of breath, wheezing, a tight feeling in your chest, or chronic coughing, you might have asthma. How will you know? You will need to seek medical help before you can be given an asthma management plan.
Before you can be treated for any kind of asthma-related illness, you will need to undergo some testing. Here is what you can expect to go through before your asthma diagnosis can be made.
Your first step in asthma diagnosis involves a trip to the doctor. First, your asthma doctor will inquire into your family medical history.
Many people who show signs of asthmatic behavior come from families with previous history of respiratory illness. But a family history does not automatically mean that you will have it.
Your doctor will also ask you about any breathing problems that you suffer with. He or she might also ask you about the type, duration, and frequency of symptoms.
A physician will also do a complete physical examination. This will include listening to your lungs with a stethoscope and an examination of your nasal passages. The lungs are examined for quality of breath sounds and the nose is checked for polyps, which are a sign of severe asthma.
If you are experiencing symptoms, your physician may give you a trial of asthma medication to see if it can alleviate your symptoms. If it works for you, your doctor will more likely give you a diagnosis of asthma.
One of the tests that your doctor may do for an asthma diagnosis is to test your breathing with a spirometry. This simple test is performed in the doctor's office or hospital and measures the volume of air that you can blow out of your lungs.
The spirometer measures the volume of air that you push out and the rate at which you do so. It shows the strength of your lungs and dictate how your treatment will go.
Other Laboratory Tests
Other health issues are eliminated before making an asthma diagnosis.
Based on your condition, laboratory tests may be ordered by your doctor. You may undergo a chest x-ray to see check for any fluid in your lungs. Your doctor may also request that you undergo laboratory tests on your sputum (phlegm and mucus) as well as your blood. This will rule out any type of infection. These tests will allow your doctor to be certain that you have no other illness that is masking itself as asthma.
Sometimes the answers that you give to your doctor’s questions may make him think that you have issues relating to allergies. In this sort of situation, you will be referred to an allergist who specializes in testing for allergies.
An allergist will use a skin prick test to help them understand what irritates your system and affects your breathing.
Based on the information collected from your doctor, you can start an asthma management plan. Developed by you and your doctor, an asthma action plan will help you to control asthma in any situation. This simple form will help you to manage your asthma symptoms so that you can have a normal life.
Many people with asthma find fewer complications when they find a management plan that really works. Read The SAFE Asthma Treatment Guide and discover the four steps to controlling asthma.
With a little help from your doctor and the right plan of action, you can control your wheezing so that you can breathe easier.
And remember … any asthma treatment prescribed by a physician should always be taken as ordered, even if there are no symptoms. Your doctor is the gatekeeper to keeping you healthy.
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