Asthma: Actions in screening and diagnosis

Diagnosing asthma typically consists of a clinical background, physical test and lung exams.

By Mayo Clinic Team

An asthma diagnosis is primarily based on many elements, together with a specific clinical background, a physical test, your signs, and in general well being and take a look at results.

Healthcare background

The very first phase in diagnosing asthma is chatting to your doctor about your signs and your well being. This can provide clues as to no matter whether asthma or some thing else is triggering your signs. Your doctor will probable request about your signs and your exposure to substances that have been joined to asthma. Thoughts could possibly include:

  • What are your signs? When do they arise? What, if anything at all, seems to cause them?
  • Are you normally uncovered to tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, dust or other airborne irritants?
  • Do you have hay fever or a different allergic situation?
  • Do you have blood relatives, these as a dad or mum, aunt, grandparent or cousin, with asthma, hay fever or other allergic reactions?
  • What well being issues do you have?
  • What remedies or natural nutritional supplements do you consider?
  • What is your profession?
  • Do you have pet birds, or do you increase pigeons?

Bodily test

Your doctor may possibly:

  • Take a look at your nose, throat and higher airways.
  • Use a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. Wheezing — significant-pitched whistling sounds when you breathe out — is one of the main indications of asthma.
  • Take a look at your pores and skin for indications of allergic ailments these as eczema and hives.

Your doctor will want to know no matter whether you have popular indications and signs of asthma, these as:

  • Recurrent wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upper body tightness
  • Signs and symptoms that arise or worsen at evening
  • Signs and symptoms that are induced by cold air, workout or exposure to allergens

Asthma indications and signs in small children

In small children, supplemental indications and signs may possibly sign asthma. These may possibly include:

  • Louder or more rapidly than regular breathing
  • Repeated coughing or coughing that worsens just after active perform
  • Coughing, distinct mucus and a runny nose brought about by hay fever
  • Repeated skipped university days
  • Constrained participation in physical routines


Your doctor may possibly use many exams to establish how well your lungs are doing the job.


This is the main take a look at doctors typically use to diagnose asthma in individuals 5 a long time or older.

To enable establish how well your lungs are doing the job (pulmonary perform), you consider a deep breath and forcefully breathe out (exhale) into a tube linked to a spirometer. This information both the volume (quantity) of air you exhale and how rapidly you exhale. If sure measurements are below regular for a individual your age, it may possibly suggest that asthma has narrowed your airways.

After getting lung take a look at measurements, your doctor may possibly request you to inhale an asthma drug to open air passages and then do the take a look at once more. Demonstrating significant improvement just after getting the medication could signify you have asthma.

Problem take a look at

If your spirometer results are regular or in close proximity to regular, your doctor could possibly try out to cause asthma signs by having you inhale a substance that leads to the airways to slender in individuals with asthma, these as methacholine (meth-uh-KO-leen).

If you look to have asthma induced by workout (workout-induced asthma), you may possibly be asked to do physical activity to see no matter whether it triggers signs.

After both motion, you can retake the spirometry take a look at. If your spirometry measurements keep on being regular, you in all probability don’t have asthma. But if your measurements have fallen substantially, it is achievable you do.

Lung exams in small children

Medical professionals seldom do lung exams in small children less than age 5. Alternatively, diagnosis is typically primarily based on a kid’s indications and signs, clinical background, and physical evaluation. It can be especially tricky to diagnose asthma in young small children because there are numerous ailments that cause asthma-like signs in this age team.

If your kid’s doctor suspects asthma, the doctor may possibly prescribe a bronchodilator — a drug that opens the airways. If your kid’s indications and signs boost just after using the bronchodilator, your baby may possibly have asthma.

Exhaled nitric oxide take a look at

You breathe into a tube linked to a equipment that actions the volume of nitric oxide fuel in your breath. Nitric oxide fuel is developed by the human body commonly, but significant concentrations in your breath can signify your airways are infected — a sign of asthma.

Added exams: Ruling out ailments other than asthma

If your doctor suspects that you have a situation in addition to or other than asthma, you may possibly want exams these as:

  • X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) imaging of your upper body
  • CT scans of your sinuses
  • Blood exams
  • Gastroesophageal reflux evaluation
  • Assessment of the phlegm in your lungs (sputum induction and evaluation) for indications of a viral or bacterial infection

Your doctor may possibly also want to see no matter whether you have other ailments that normally accompany asthma and can worsen signs. These include:

  • Heartburn (also recognized as gastroesophageal reflux sickness or GERD)
  • Hay fever
  • Sinusitis

Your doctor may possibly also perform allergy exams. These can be pores and skin exams, blood exams or both. Though not made use of to diagnose asthma, allergy exams can enable establish an allergic situation, these as hay fever, that may possibly be triggering your signs or worsening existing asthma.

From time to time, diagnosing the cause of breathing issues is a challenge. It can be tricky to differentiate asthma from other ailments — specifically in young small children.

When asthma coexists with a different situation that affects breathing, it can even further complicate diagnosis.

Even if a diagnosis is not sure, your doctor may possibly prescribe remedies or other therapy to see what assists. It may possibly consider time — and endurance — to get the proper diagnosis and establish the most effective training course of therapy.


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