How Your Doctor Tests for Asthma

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How Your Doctor Tests for Asthma

The CDC estimates that around 25 million people suffer from asthma in the United States. Sufferers who go untreated may experience life threatening symptoms that make it impossible to breathe. If you decide to head to your doctor to ask about asthma, here's what to expect during your visit.

1. Medical history

The doctor will ask about your symptoms, family history, and may try to find out if there are activities or places that trigger symptoms.

2. Physical exam

Asthma impacts a patient's ability to breathe, so the doctor will check your lungs and listen to your chest for signs of respiratory distress.

3. Breath test

The doctor will perform a spirometry test, which will gauge the volume of air your lungs can take in and release. The test will also measure the speed of your exhale.

4. Additional questions

Based upon the results of the lung test and the physical exam, the doctor may recommend a few other tests to confirm or disprove the diagnosis.

  • Allergy test to see if an allergic reaction causes your asthma

  • Active spirometry test where you'll engage in physical activity to measure lung function

  • EKG (electrocardiogram) or chest X-ray to look at your lungs for potential blockages

Everyone who suffers from difficulty breathing won't get an asthma diagnosis. Instead, the doctor may diagnose you with sleep apnea or acid reflux disease or other diseases with symptoms that mimic asthma.

After the Diagnosis

After an asthma diagnosis, the doctor may refer you to a specialist for additional treatment. The doctor may also prescribe asthma medication to help you control your symptoms. Follow-up appointments help the doctor gauge whether medication levels need adjustment.



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