Asthma Diagnosis and Screening
Asthma Diagnosis can prove difficult at times. Signs and symptoms can be mild or severe and are often similar to those of other conditions, including emphysema, early congestive heart failure or vocal cord problems.
For patients who are around 5 years of age or older, a few asthma tests are available at Colorado ENT & Allergy.
The most common tools to measure lung function are:
- Spirometer. A spirometer is used by a medical professional to measure narrowing of your bronchial tubes. This device measures the volume of air you can exhale after you’ve taken a deep breath. A spirometer also shows how quickly you can get air out of your lungs.
- NIOX. Niox is a computerized analysis of exhaled breath looking for the level of exhaled nitric oxide. Patients with airway inflammation often time have elevated nitric oxide levels when they exhale. This device can help make the diagnosis of asthma and airway inflammation
- Peak flow meter. A peak flow meter can be used at home to help detect subtle increases in airway obstruction before you notice symptoms. If the readings are lower than usual, it’s a sign your asthma may be about to flare up.
The results of your physical exam and diagnostic tests can help your doctor classify how severe your asthma is, which helps guide how it should be treated. The four main classifications of asthma are:
- Intermittent. This is the mildest form of asthma. Generally, people with mild intermittent asthma have mild symptoms up to two days a week and up to two nights a month.
- Mild persistent. You have mild persistent asthma if you have asthma symptoms more than twice a week, but no more than once in a single day.
- Moderate persistent. If you have asthma symptoms once a day and more than one night a week, you may have moderate persistent asthma.
- Severe persistent. This is the most severe form of asthma, causing symptoms throughout the day on most days and frequently at night.
Asthma accounts for millions of missed school days and workdays each year. It’s also a common reason for emergency room visits and hospitalizations. We discuss Asthma Action Plans so that each patient is aware of their asthma treatment plan on good days as well as bad days.