How does a doctor diagnose that you are suffering from asthma?

Asthma is an inflammatory condition that can have very complex causes.  They key to treating asthma is to correctly identify what causes it.  Hence, doctors conduct meticulous diagnostic procedure for asthma which includes a physical exam, medical history exam and different clinical tests.

Medical History Exam

 The first step in conducting asthma diagnosis by the doctor is the medical history exam.  This diagnosis may be conducted by a doctor by a series of questions.  Or it can be derived from the patient answering a questionnaire that is usually given when a patient stepsinto the clinic.

The questions may include the potential symptoms that made you think you have asthma, frequency of said symptoms; establishing your potential exposure to irritants (tobacco smoking habit, occupation related to chemical fumes and dusts); previous allergic experience, relatives or family with asthma, and having pets, among others.

Physical exam

The second step is the physical exam to be conducted by the doctor on your body. The doctor primarily uses a stethoscope to check for abnormal breathing symptoms which included recurring wheezing or the high-pitched whistling caused by obstructed airways; rapid breathing; breathlessness or gasping for breath and the apparent retraction or the visible expanding of the ribs and shoulders which shows an effort to breathe.

Other important symptoms that the doctor would ask you as part of their physical exam included feeling of chest tightness in normal conditions as well as frequent coughing in the morning or night as well as runny nose.

Clinical Tests

To further determine asthma, hereunder are the most common tests that doctors use to diagnose your asthma.

Spirometry.In this test, patient is as asked to take a deep breath and forcefully exhale in a spirometer tube. The spirometer measures the speed of your exhale and the amount of air you exhale. It then compares your measure to the normal average count for a person of your age to determine if you have breathing problems.

Bronchodilator. A patient (child) suspected of asthma may be asked to inhale a bronchodilator. When significant improvement occurs after use, then the patient may have asthma.

Challenge test. A patient may be asked to inhale a chemical i.e. methacholine that triggers asthma. If asthma symptoms occur, then you most likely have asthma.

FeNO test test. A patient is asked to breathe into a FENO Breath test machine. If you have high levels of nitric oxide gas in your breath could be inflamed airways which are a symptom of asthma.

Blood test.  Blood tests are used for checking one’s overall health. For asthma diagnostic tests however, doctors check for high levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is a sign of asthma. This antibody is copiously discharged when a person suffers from an allergic reaction.

Gastroesophageal reflux assessment (GERD).   More commonly known as heart burn, this condition tends to aggravate among people with asthma.  Doctors test its presence in a patient suspected of asthma.

Chest X-rays.   This is primarily used to see image of the lungs and can manifest swelling structures inside your chest, which can possibly cause by asthma.