What’s Involved in an Asthma Diagnosis?

What’s Involved in an Asthma Diagnosis

Spirometry is one breathing test that doctors might perform to confirm a diagnosis of asthma. For younger children, a diagnosis may be made based only on a review of the symptoms.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects around 25 million Americans, or 8% of the total population.

Asthma sufferers frequently encounter episodes of wheezing, coughing, and dyspnea. Millions of missed work and school days, as well as millions of ER and doctor visits, result from this every year.

After diagnosing you with asthma, a physician can assist in managing and treating your symptoms. However, even though asthma is somewhat common, diagnosing it can be quite difficult, particularly in young children.

To find out more about how medical professionals diagnose asthma, continue reading.

Symptoms of asthma
Asthma symptoms include:

  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • breathlessness
  • coughing, particularly during the night
Symptoms of asthma frequently come and go. Cold viruses, physical activity, variations in temperature, allergies, and irritants like smoke or perfumes are among the triggers.

Additionally, you can experience signs of associated atopic diseases including allergies or eczema.

Spirometry for Asthma

During a diagnostic spirometry test, you will be asked to inhale deeply and forcefully blow into a big tube by a medical specialist. This is what you'll do both before and after taking an albuterol or other bronchodilator. After that, a machine will assess your lung function and breathing patterns to identify if you have asthma or a reversible airway blockage.

The most effective test for diagnosing asthma is spirometry. Afterwards, it might aid medical professionals in gauging your reaction to asthma medication.

Spirometry isn't flawless, though. Coordination, teamwork, and powerful breathing are necessary. Children under the age of five usually cannot undergo accurate spirometry. Some medical practitioners wait until a child is eight years old or older to use spirometry to test for asthma.

Other breathing tests for asthma

Additional possible asthma breathing tests consist of:
  • Methacholine challenge: Before repeating spirometry in a methacholine challenge test, you will inhale another drug.
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO): You will momentarily breathe into a tube that is connected to a little machine during a FeNO test. You will exhale slightly more nitric oxide if you have asthmatic airway inflammation or irritation.
  • Peak flow meter: To test a peak flow metre, blow into a tiny handheld gadget to cause a toggle to move. When monitoring older children and people with a history of asthma, this test is most helpful.

Allergy tests for asthma

Asthma cannot be diagnosed by allergy tests. However, they can detect allergies that may be the source of your asthma symptoms or make them worse.

It is estimated by researchers that up to 80% of children and over 50% of adults have asthma because of allergies. Treating allergens can assist improve asthma control if they exacerbate your asthma. Skin prick testing and blood testing for antibodies specific to allergens are common allergy tests.

Exercise tests for asthma

Exercise can occasionally aggravate asthmatic symptoms. Should preliminary examinations fail to identify asthmatic symptoms, a medical practitioner may request that you complete spirometry in the clinic following an exercise regimen, such as using a stationary bike or treadmill.

Blood tests for asthma

Asthma cannot be diagnosed by blood testing alone. However, to check for various medical disorders that can cause dyspnea, a doctor may conduct additional blood tests, an eosinophil count, or blood allergy testing.

To keep an eye on your general health, doctors may require additional blood tests during an acute asthma attack.

Eosinophils and asthma

Eosinophils are immune system constituents. These are the white blood cells that aid in the defence against infections. Eosinophils induce swelling and inflammation in your airways if you have eosinophilic asthma.

Asthma eosinophilic is uncommon. By measuring your eosinophil counts in a blood test, a doctor can verify it.

Asthma diagnosis in children vs. adults

Even though early childhood is often the onset of asthma symptoms, asthma is difficult to detect in young children. This is because toddlers frequently experience wheezing due to cold viruses. But the majority of these kids won't go on to get asthma.

Up until the age of five, more accurate asthma diagnostics like spirometry or FeNO are usually not helpful.

After speaking with you and seeing your child, doctors can frequently make a clinical diagnosis if you're worried that your young child may have asthma.

To confirm a probable diagnosis of asthma in older children and adults, physicians may do diagnostic spirometry and further supportive testing.


Can a chest x-ray show asthma?

To diagnose asthma, medical professionals employ a range of imaging and physical examinations. An X-ray of the chest can be useful in determining other medical issues that could be contributing to or worsening a person's symptoms. Nevertheless, an X-ray by itself cannot diagnose asthma in a doctor.

Can a pulmonologist detect asthma?

See a pulmonologist or allergist who is board-certified if you are experiencing asthmatic symptoms. They will discuss whether you require any pulmonary function tests with you based on your medical history and symptoms.

Can you see asthma on a CT scan?

However, several abnormalities from CT scans can confirm the diagnosis of asthma. The most sensitive investigation for morphologic alterations linked to asthma is still HRCT. HRCT may help with functional evaluation of the lungs, including bronchodilator responsiveness and airtrapping tests.


Physicians frequently use diagnostic breathing tests, such as spirometry and FeNO, to confirm an asthma diagnosis in older adults and children. An allergy test could be beneficial as well.

However, asthma frequently starts in early childhood, and there isn't a reliable diagnostic procedure for this age range. Rather, a kid's symptoms and physical examination will be used to diagnose and treat asthma by doctors, who will also regularly follow the child as they grow.

Despite being a chronic condition, asthma can be effectively treated to maintain lung function and manage symptoms. If you think you or your kid may have asthma, see a doctor.

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