Asthma Testing and Diagnosis
When we see a person with heavy breathing, shortness of breath, or with a wheezing cough, the first thing we think about is whether the person is contagious. Less often, we look at him sympathetically and understand that, perhaps, he has bronchial asthma – a chronic respiratory disease. The basis of asthma is inflammation in the human respiratory system. Asthma attacks are caused by bronchospasm.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Finding the symptoms, a person can only assume the presence of bronchial asthma. Asthma should be diagnosed by specialists. Doctors – allergists and pulmonologists know how to diagnose asthma.
Why is it difficult to diagnose asthma? Asthma symptoms can be mixed up with other diseases of the bronchopulmonary system. But you should be alert and visit a doctor if you or your children have any of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath, whether you are asleep or awake;
- frequent debilitating cough that interferes with your life;
- a cough with sputum secretion, especially if it has blood;
- chest pain.
Your doctor’s visit will begin with a conversation. Be prepared to answer the following questions to your doctor:
- how often did you suffer from bronchopulmonary diseases in childhood;
- how long have you had the symptoms you are complaining about;
- whether a cough occurs after physical activity or loud, prolonged laughter.
After the conversation, the doctor will examine the patient using a stethoscope. If the doctor suspects the presence of bronchial asthma, then at the end of the medical examination, the patient will be prescribed a full examination.
How can asthma be diagnosed with additional tests?
To confirm or deny the diagnsis of bronchial asthma, you will need to undergo the following examinations:
- chest x-ray;
- computed tomography examination;
- a spirometer examination to determine the volume of exhaled air;
- test for allergens;
- blood, urine tests.
Who is at risk of developing bronchial asthma?
The area of particular risk includes people who have asthma patients in their families. People who work with allergens and irritants are at increased risk of developing asthma. These include the following professions: veterinarians, farmers, workers in hazardous chemical industries, jewelers, hairdressers, locksmiths, health workers, manufacturers of rubber products, etc. That is, people that have a close contact with all kinds of allergens. Smokers with experience have a great chance to get bronchial asthma.
However, this does not mean that allergens are the only cause of bronchial asthma. In nature, there is also a non-allergic (endogenous) type of asthma. True, it is much less common than the exogenous (allergic) type. As a rule, women over 30 get sick with this type of asthma, and the disease appears due to respiratory infections.
How is asthma diagnosed in children?
Pediatricians are in no hurry to diagnose “bronchial asthma” in children under 6 years of age. This is due to the fact that the clinical picture of the disease in children is not entirely clear. But if a child has characteristic signs of asthma: wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, and these symptoms diminish or disappear completely after using Ventolin, then, as a rule, doctors talk about the presence of asthma in the baby.
A provocation method is used to diagnose asthma in children: stress test and inhalation with Methacholine. The first method is to check lung function after running. The second method does not affect healthy children in any way, while patients with asthma will react in the form of a short-term deterioration in lung function.
Asthma can and should be treated. The earlier the diagnosis is established, the more successful the treatment will be. Do not neglect the disease, visit a doctor.