Call today for an appointment (925) 846-5100

Diagnosing Asthma

Asthma, at times, may be difficult to distinguish from bronchitis and upper respiratory illnesses.  Asthma is an acute or chronic spasm of the muscles that surround the airway passages in your lungs.  The constricted muscles narrow the passageways making it difficult to breath.  Your allergist may choose to do certain tests to assist in making a clear diagnosis of asthma.  These may include measuring how well you pass air in and out of your lungs this is called pulmonary functions testing. 

Your doctor may use devices such as a spirometer or a peak flow meter go help determine how well you are able to move air in your lungs.  Patients with  asthma are not able to move air in and out of their lungs very well.  Other tests may include chest X-ray tests to rule out infection or to be sure there is no mechanical obstruction.   If your doctor suspects that you have asthma, he/she may decide to do allergen skin testing to determine if allergies are contributing to or provoking your symptoms.  Depending on the severity of your disease, your doctor will decide the best treatment course for you.  This is likely to include medications and may also include allergy shots (or immunotherapy).  Depending on the severity of your asthma, your doctor may design a different treatment plan for you.  Asthma severity is categorized as below:

Mild intermittent asthma - if you experience asthma less than twice a week, experience sleep disturbance less than twice a month, and are symptom free between episodes.  And your lung functions are normal.

Mild persistent asthma - if you experience asthma more than twice a week, but not daily, experience sleep disturbance at least twice a month, and your asthma interferes with normal activity.

Moderate persistent asthma - if you experience asthma daily, your sleep is interrupted more than once a week and your activity level is affected.

Severe persistent asthma - if you exerience asthma most days, are bothered most nights and your regular activities are limited.

Copyright © 2008-2010 Dr. Beth Cowan