Asthma in Teens and Adults
Exams and Tests
Lung function tests
- Reference Spirometry Opens New Window is the most common test to diagnose asthma. It measures how quickly you can move air in and out of the lungs and how much is moved.
- Testing of daytime changes in Reference peak expiratory flow (PEF) is done over 1 to 2 weeks. This test is needed when you have symptoms off and on but have normal spirometry test results.
- An Reference exercise or inhalation challenge may be used if the spirometry test results have been normal or near normal but asthma is still suspected. These tests measure how quickly you can breathe in and out after exercise or after using a medicine. An inhalation challenge also may be done using a specific irritant or Reference allergen Opens New Window if your doctor suspects Reference occupational asthma.
Tests for other diseases
Asthma can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms vary widely. And asthma-like symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as a viral lung infection or a Reference vocal cord problem. So your doctor may want to do one or more extra tests.
- More lung function tests may be needed if your doctor suspects another lung disease, such as Reference COPD Opens New Window.
- An Reference electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) Opens New Window might be done to rule out serious conditions with similar symptoms, such as Reference chronic heart failure Opens New Window. This test measures the electrical signals that control the rhythm of your heartbeat.
- A Reference bronchoscopy test can be done to examine the airways for problems such as tumors or foreign bodies. This test uses a long, thin, lighted tube to look at your airways.
- Reference Biopsies Opens New Window of the airways can be done to look for changes that point to asthma.
- A Reference chest X-ray may be used to look for signs of other lung diseases, such as fibrous tissue caused by chronic inflammation (pulmonary fibrosis).
- Blood tests, such as a Reference complete blood count (CBC) Opens New Window, may be done to look for signs of an infection or other condition.
You need to Reference monitor your condition and have regular checkups to keep asthma under control and to review and possibly update your Reference asthma action plan. Checkups are recommended every 1 to 6 months, depending on how well your asthma is controlled.
During checkups, your doctor will ask about information you may have tracked in an Reference asthma diary, such as:
- Whether your symptoms and Reference peak expiratory flow Opens New Window have held steady, improved, or become worse. You may be asked to bring your Reference peak expiratory flow meter Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window to an appointment so your doctor can see how you use it.
- Asthma attacks during exercise or at night.
Based on the results, your asthma category may change, and your doctor may change the medicines you use or how much medicine you use.
Tests to identify triggers
If you have persistent asthma and take medicine every day, your doctor may ask about your exposure to substances (Reference allergens Opens New Window) that cause an allergic reaction. For more information about testing for triggers, see the topic Reference Allergic Rhinitis.
Reference Allergy tests can include skin tests and a blood test. Skin tests are needed if you are interested in allergy shots (immunotherapy).
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology