Are you worried that you or your child has asthma? Asthma can be scary if you don’t know exactly what you are up against. It is important to receive a proper diagnosis so that you can properly care for yourself or your child. It might help if, before going in for a doctor’s diagnosis and an asthma test, you understand the signs and symptoms of asthma.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It can be triggered by a number of things, including airborne allergens and physical exertion. Signs and symptoms of asthma include the following:
- Tightness in chest
- Difficulty filling lungs
- Low tolerance for physical exercise
Many of these symptoms can be caused by other ailments (such as allergies), but you should consider being tested by a doctor regardless. In fact, allergies often act as asthma triggers, making it a dual problem. Talk about no fun!
How Does a Doctor Diagnose Asthma?
To determine whether or not you have asthma, your doctor will probably ask you a number of medical questions, including about your family’s medical history. Asthma can be hereditary (though certainly not always), so knowing your family’s health history can indicate whether it’s a possibility for you.
The doctor will also ask about symptoms, triggers, exercise habits, etc. Once all of the basic questions have been answered, your doctor will perform a physical exam.
What is Included in an Asthma Test?
This exam will include an inspection of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat, as well as possible lung X-rays.
Once the physical exam is complete, the doctor will test your lungs using a series of breathing tests. If your lungs are underperforming, they will determine whether the source of the problem is asthma or something else.
It’s important to remember that there are different levels of asthma, so even if you are diagnosed, it may not be as severe as some other cases. Generally speaking, asthma severity ranges from 4 different levels: intermittent, mild, moderate, and severe. Each requires a different level of treatment.
How do People with Asthma Monitor Their Condition?
Once you have been diagnosed with asthma, it’s important that you do everything you can to monitor and manage it. You can do this in a number of ways, but especially by developing a written asthma action plan.
An asthma action plan is a detailed diary that records symptoms, attacks, and other helpful information. Not only does it help you know what actions to take upon attack, but it also provides an accessible database for both you and your doctor.
Additionally, you can monitor your condition by performing lung tests at home. This lets you know how well you are taking in breaths.
How Can You Test Your Lungs at Home?
There are two primary lung tests that can help you monitor your asthma.
A peak flow meter is a device that indicates an individual’s total lung capacity. After exhaling into a peak flow meter, an arrow points to a number, which becomes your peak flow rating. The higher your rating, the more air your lungs can hold.
A spirometry test measures your FEV1%, which refers to the amount of air you can forcefully exhale in one second. A score of 80% places you in the “average score” of other asthmatic individuals who share your sex, age, and size. In other words, an at-home spirometer indicates your “normal percentage” as well as how that percentage relates to others.
Another good way to test your lungs is to count how many breaths you naturally take in 60 seconds. Investing in a portable lung-testing program is a great method of collecting data that can be saved for future doctor’s visits.
How Can You Monitor Asthma Symptoms?
Regular testing of lung function helps both doctors and patients to more closely monitor respiratory health over time and create better, more informed treatment plans. Proper usage of portable spirometry devices like Aluna can help you manage your asthma.
Remember, not all asthma types are created equal. One asthmatic may be triggered by airborne allergens, while another might suffer from exercise-induced asthma only. Consequently, it is important to work with your doctor to determine what you should avoid and how you should treat your symptoms.