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May 14, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Asthma

Asthma can be tricky to recognize. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have the disease, it’s best to find a pulmonary specialist or allergologist so you can seek out an accurate diagnosis.

Here is Everything You Need to Know About Asthma

During the consultation, your doctor may want to investigate your medical history relating to asthma, conduct physical examinations, and administer lung capacity tests.

doctor treating child with asthma - everything you need to know about asthmaMedical history

Before diagnosing asthma, your doctor will want to have a full view of your medical history[1] and all other factors that may contribute to the disease. The doctor may ask you about the following:

  • Exposure to substances that trigger asthma, such as tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, dust and irritants
  • History of allergic conditions and hay fever
  • Having blood relatives with asthma and other allergic conditions
  • Medications and supplements you regularly take
  • Existence of pets
  • Other health problems you may have

Symptoms check

In addition, your doctor may check your symptoms. Common signs of asthma[2] include: wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, symptoms that worsen at night and symptoms that are triggered by cold air, exercise or exposure to allergens.

In children, a pulmonologist will look out for rapid breathing, frequent coughing and coughing triggered by physical activities, coughing with clear mucus and runny nose due to hay fever or limited participation in physical activities at school and home.

Physical examination

Your doctor will look for signs of allergies or irritation in your nose, throat, and upper airways[3] and may also examine your skin to look for any sign of allergic conditions. Furthermore, your doctor will listen to your breathing using a stethoscope in order to identify wheezing sounds when you exhale, which is one of the most common symptoms of asthma.

Lung function tests

There are a variety of tests to check how well your lungs work. The most basic is spirometry. A spirometer is a device that measures how well the lungs are working (i.e., your pulmonary function). To do this, your doctor will ask you to breathe out into a tube connected to a spirometer, which then records how much air you exhale and how quickly you exhale. Measurements that fall below normal levels indicate narrowed airways due to asthma. After the spirometry test[4], your doctor may ask you to undergo the test again after giving you a medication that opens up the airways. Your doctor may diagnose you with asthma if the results show significant improvement.

In addition to a spirometry test, your doctor may give you an asthma challenge test try to trigger asthma symptoms by letting you inhale methacholine, a substance that causes narrowing in the air passages[5]. As an alternative, your doctor may also ask you to do any physical activity to see whether your symptoms will flare up[6]. Afterwards, you may undergo the spirometry test again to measure your pulmonary function.

After the asthma diagnosis is made, it’s best to ask your doctor about management and prevention approaches.

***Note that this article does not serve as professional medical advise, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advise of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.

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[1] Medscape. Asthma clinical presentation. Reference: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/296301-clinical

[2] Medical News Today. What are the signs that you might have asthma? Reference: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324449.php

[3] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Physical Exam to Diagnose Asthma. Reference: https://www.aafa.org/physical-exam-diagnose-asthma/

 

 

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