Diagnosing Asthma

Diagnosing Asthma

Asthma is no laughing matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But how is it diagnosed? Are you even sure you have it? In the past, youngsters and even older adults, who were more in tune with their body’s rhythms, could go on for years and never be correctly diagnosed. As the science gets better, we hope so does the diagnosis. But like so many other things it’s important to speak up if you feel you or especially your child is having problems other children aren’t.

If you’re not satisfied, keep asking questions; asthma is a debilitating disease that literally takes your breath away. You want to protect that at all costs.

Doctors define asthma as chronic inflammatory disease of the airway that causes many symptoms including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest

With these symptoms or their early onset a doctor is able to conduct lung-function tests. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to assist in the conclusive determination as to whether the disease is present or not.

Misdiagnosis: However, just because you’ve got symptoms doesn’t always mean you’re infected with asthma. One example is you may get tightness in your chest or wheezing during or just after exercise. That’s a symptom of asthma that’s not uncommon in someone just beginning an exercise regimen, for instance. It’s also symptomatic of being out of shape and pushing yourself too hard. Not doing correct warm-ups before, cool downs after, or keeping properly hydrated… the list goes on. So, yu see, there is no need to get worked up over nothing if you begin to experience asthmatic symptoms.

Persistent cough is common in asthmatics, especially children. But persistent cough happens to be symptomatic of lung disease, whooping cough, or postnasal drip. For adults or adolescents, there are often other factors at play, but infants who cough to the point of vomiting should get immediate attention from a doctor. That is a very big indicator of asthma and should be checked out post haste.

Other things need be ruled out from anyone who thinks they may have asthma are heart disease, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Only a doctor can diagnose asthma, you should always see one right away if you feel endangered. Some circumstances you should come equipped with for the doctors’ evaluation are:

  • Your medical history
  • What your symptoms are
  • How frequently they occur
  • How they change with medication
  • Individual triggers for symptoms
  • Your own allergies
  • Your family history

On your visit, a doctor will test your lung function, using ‘peak flow monitoring’ and ‘spirometry’ to determine how quickly you expel air.

Asthma doesn’t have to stop you. But it will certainly change your life. You should be aware of any noticeable changes in your breathing patterns and see your doctor right away. Your health is in your own best interest; getting correctly diagnosed at the first indication that anything could be wrong is paramount, so that you may begin an action plan right away.

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