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How is Asthma Diagnosed?

Discover the various methods used for diagnosing asthma, including lung function tests, additional tests, and evaluations for exercise-induced and cold-induced asthma. Early diagnosis helps tailor treatment plans for better management of asthma symptoms.

  • 13 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read

Are you often having trouble breathing, and feel your chest tighten up even after just mild exercise? It could be due to Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to a variety of respiratory issues. To figure out if you have asthma, your doctor will dig into your health history, give you a good once-over and peek at any test scores they've got on you. They'll size up how bad your symptoms are during your first visit and give you a customized plan. It's like crafting a health strategy tailored to your problem – making sure you're sorted from the get-go.

Diagnosis of Asthma

The following are some of the methods for an asthma diagnosis.

Physical examination

  • As part of a comprehensive physical examination, your physician will assess any further health concerns you may have in addition to your reported symptoms and rule out any underlying illnesses such as lung infections or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Your doctor may assess the health of your lungs using tests. These tests evaluate how well your lungs are breathing in and out, which can help determine whether your bronchial tubes or airways are narrowing or if your asthma is getting worse. A few of the tests are:

- Spirometry: This test measures how quickly and how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath to determine how much your bronchial tubes have narrowed.

- Peak flow: An easy-to-use tool called a peak flow meter gauges how hard you can exhale. Low peak flow values may be an indication of an asthmatic worsening, implying that your lungs are not working properly.

Additional tests

To confirm the asthma diagnosis, the doctor may conduct additional tests beyond basic lung function tests. These include:

1. Methacholine challenge: This test involves inhaling a small dose of methacholine, which can cause a slight narrowing of the airways in people with asthma. If you experience a reaction, it suggests you might have asthma. Even if your initial lung function test shows normal results, this test may still be useful.

2. Chest X-ray: An imaging test that can reveal any underlying structural issues or respiratory infections that could contribute to breathing difficulties.

3. Allergy testing: Skin prick tests or blood tests can determine if you have allergies to common irritants like pet dander, dust mites, mold, or pollen. Your doctor may suggest allergen immunotherapy based on the results.

4. Nitric oxide test: Determines the amount of nitric oxide gas in your exhaled breath, which rises as asthma flares up your airways. But this test isn't used that much.

5. Sputum eosinophils: It examines the number of white blood cells called eosinophils in the mixture of mucus and saliva you cough up. High eosinophil counts indicate worsening asthma symptoms.

6. Provocative testing for exercise-induced and cold-induced asthma: During these tests, your doctor assesses how well your lungs function before and after engaging in strenuous exercise or taking deep breaths of cold air.

Also read:


To sum up, diagnosing asthma requires a thorough process that includes lung function testing, physical examinations, and medical histories. A vital component of guaranteeing access to prompt diagnosis and treatment is health insurance. Prioritizing regular checks and insurance-covered diagnostic tests is essential for enabling early identification and efficient asthma treatment. When asthma is diagnosed early and properly covered by insurance, people can take proactive measures to manage their condition, improving their general health and reducing long-term medical expenses.

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