Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes inflammation and narrowing in the airways. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Allergic and non-allergic asthma are the two main types of asthma. Allergic asthma is triggered by an allergic reaction to something in the environment, such as pollen, dust mites, or animal dander. Non-allergic asthma may be triggered by cold air, exercise, or respiratory infections.
Doctors take several steps and different tests to diagnose asthma and find out what type of asthma you have. Let’s talk about how doctors diagnose asthma.
Review of Medical History
The first thing a doctor performs is a medical history collection and assessment, which includes questions about your symptoms and when they occur. They will also want to know if there are any other health conditions that may be contributing to your asthma or making it worse. To learn this, they will ask about your medical history, starting from when you were a child. It is important to be detailed and honest with your doctor. Make sure to tell them about all allergies, diseases, and surgeries you have had in the past – even if you think it may be irrelevant. Also share any medications you currently take.
The second step is a physical exam, during which the doctor will listen to your lungs and look for signs of inflammation. Doctors use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs for wheezing, which is common in asthma.
Pulmonary Function Test
The third step is a pulmonary function test, in which you will blow into a machine that measures how well your lungs are working. During the test, you will be asked to breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a machine called a spirometer. The spirometer will measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs.
The doctor will look at the results of a spirometry test, which measures how well you can breathe. If you have asthma, your airways will be constricted, and you won’t be able to take in as much air or exhale as forcefully as someone without asthma.
If the doctor suspects the asthma is caused by an allergy, they may recommend a skin test, which involves placing a small amount of allergen on the skin and then pricking the surface of the skin. A raised bump will develop as a reaction to a substance you are allergic to. Another diagnostic tool a doctor may use is a blood test, or an immunoglobulin E (IgE) test, which measures the level of antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are produced by your immune system in response to an allergen.
If the doctor suspects non-allergic asthma, they may order chest X-rays or exercise tests, depending on what information is gleaned from your medical history.
Asthma Treatment in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, and Plainfield, IL
The board-certified board-allergists at Oak Brook Allergists can properly diagnose your asthma, identify your triggers, and create a treatment plan that will help you effectively manage your condition. Asthma affects your ability to breathe well, which is serious. It is why our allergy specialists are so committed to treating asthma of all types, from allergic to non-allergic asthma.
With proper treatment, you can breathe and sleep better and focus on your life more effectively. To schedule an appointment with one of our allergy doctors, call our office today at (630) 574-0460 or use our convenient online request form. Oak Brook Allergists treats both adult and pediatric patients.