Asthma diagnosis

If asthma is suspected, the doctor will first establish an accurate picture of your symptoms and will ask about your medical history including diseases in the family and allergies. This is followed by a physical examination during which the doctor will listen to your lungs for typical signs of asthma. A lung function test is required for a clear diagnosis of asthma. Further tests can rule out other diseases or, in the case of allergic asthma, can determine what the triggers are.

Measuring air flow: the lung function test

In this test, the patient blows into a mouthpiece with a special measuring device. This gives the doctor information about the volume of air you are breathing and lung function. If the lung function test indicates decreased airflow on exhalation, the patient inhales a medication to expand the airways. If there is an improvement, an asthma diagnosis is confirmed. If the test is normal, but asthma is still suspected, a provocation test can be performed.

Identifying allergy triggers

Asthma can be triggered by allergens. A physician may do skin and blood tests to confirm if a person has allergic asthma. The prick test involves applying tiny amounts of common allergic substances to the skin of the lower arm. A blood test is also helpful to confirm allergic triggers.

Further examination options

If the standard tests do not clearly confirm asthma, an X-ray may be helpful to rule out other lung diseases. A blood gas analysis also gives information on the gas exchange in the lungs: it shows if the delivery of oxygen and the exchange of carbon dioxide in the lungs is working properly.

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