How is Asthma Diagnosed?
Each clinician will diagnose asthma differently; incorporating your symptoms, family history and diagnostic testing:
• Family history of asthma or other allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis.
• Personal history of allergic diseases.
• Identify provoking factors, e.g. cold air, perfume, and environmental aeroallergens (grasses, pollen, hay), and any occupational exposures.
• Exclude other confusing conditions such as GERD (treating reflux may improve symptoms which have been wrongly attributed to asthma, particularly cough).
• Skin tests to define any allergens and possible triggers.
• Bronchodilator reversibility testing: An initial spirometry is performed to assess the patient's native respiratory status. The patient is asked to take a deep breath and then blow into the mouthpiece of the spirometer as hard as possible. This is a baseline measurement. A dose of bronchodilator medication is administered by means of inhaler or nebulizer (such as 400 mcg of salbutamol (also known as albuterol)). The patient waits about 15 minutes and then the spirometry is repeated. The result can confirm a positive diagnosis of asthma.