Asthma diagnoses have been increasing since the 1980’s, according to the CDC. It is diagnosed more in children, but adults are affected too.
Asthma diagnosis usually starts with a visit with an allergist. They will review your medical history and your family history of asthma and allergies. It will be important to bring specific details about your asthma symptoms, including when signs of asthma occur, how often they occur, whether they only occur at certain times of year and your asthma triggers which may include exercise, colds, exposure to animals, smoke, etc. Your allergist will also want to know about any related health conditions that can interfere with asthma (allergies, sinus issues, reflux, anxiety, sleep apnea).
During a physical examination, your allergist will listen to your breathing and look for signs of asthma or allergies. These signs may include wheezing, a runny nose or swollen nasal passages, and allergic skin conditions (such as eczema). Keep in mind that you can still be diagnosed with asthma even if you don't have these signs on the day that your doctor examines you.
Finally, your allergist will likely conduct a lung function test, called spirometry, to assess how well your lungs work. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out. It also measures how fast you can blow air out. Rest assured lung function tests usually are painless or cause minor discomfort, and rarely cause side effects.
Other asthma tests could include:
- Allergy testing to find out which allergens affect you, if any.
- A test to measure how sensitive your airways are.
- A test to show whether you have another condition with the similar symptoms to asthma, such as reflux disease, vocal cord dysfunction or sleep apnea.
- A chest X-ray or an EKG (electrocardiogram). These tests will help find out whether a foreign object or another disease may be causing your symptoms.
Diagnosing asthma through different allergy tests is a great first step to managing asthma. Find an allergist here to make an appointment.