To diagnose asthma, your doctor will review your medical history, family history, and symptoms, looking for breathing problems, asthma in other family members, allergies, eczema, or other lung conditions. It is important that you describe symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness in detail, including when and how often they occur.
Your doctor will also perform a physical examination and listen to your heart and lungs. There are many tests your doctor may perform, including pulmonary function tests, allergy tests, blood tests, and chest and sinus X-rays. These tests help your doctor determine if asthma is present and if other conditions affect it. Two medical conditions that may make asthma harder to treat and control are sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD. If you are diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may also test you for these conditions so that they can be treated.
Sinusitis, also called sinus infection, is an inflammation of the sinuses. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, bacteria grow, causing infection and inflammation. Your doctor may order a special sinus X-ray, called a CT scan, to evaluate your sinuses if he suspects an infection. Once acute sinusitis is diagnosed, you will be treated with antibiotics for at least 10 to 12 days.
This section includes more on pulmonary function tests.
The two most common lung-function tests used to diagnose asthma are spirometry and methacholine challenge tests.
Here are other general preparations to make before the methacholine test:
Last reviewed on 8/26/08
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