If you suspect that you or your child may have allergic asthma, it is important to schedule professional testing. Many types of asthma exist, and understanding what type you have helps you gain control over your symptoms and triggers. Which tests are used to diagnose allergic asthma, and what does that mean for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Understanding the Different Types of Asthma
First, let’s discuss the various types of asthma. As with all lung conditions, asthma ranges in severity. Some individuals suffer from minor cases of asthma where attacks occur rarely, while others may experience flare-ups almost constantly. The severity of an asthma case largely depends on its triggers, as well as how often you are exposed to those triggers.
Several different types of asthma include the following.
Naturally, exercise-induced asthma is primarily triggered by physical exertion.
Likewise, anxiety-induced asthma occurs when an individual is overwhelmed or stressed. Sometimes, anxiety-induced asthma begins with hyperventilation.
Allergic asthma is triggered by air quality and airborne pollutants. It often flares up during certain seasons, like spring and fall.
Adult-onset asthma is an umbrella term for any of the other types of asthma. However, it does not show itself until an individual is well into adulthood.
Occupational asthma refers to lung inflammation that occurs only in a certain environment, usually a result of poor indoor air quality.
What Causes Allergic Asthma?
Many people experience minor seasonal allergies, but what causes allergies to turn into allergic asthma? If you or your child suffer from allergic asthma, it simply means that your body overreacts to various allergens and swells your airways as a defense mechanism. Airway inflammation causes chest tightness, difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing. Depending on the severity of your allergic asthma, something as small as a clogged air filter can result in constant attacks.
Common triggers for allergic asthma include the following.
- Pet Hair and Dander
- Tobacco Smoke
- Regular Smoke
- Dust Mites
- Heavy Scents (like candles or perfume)
- Chemicals in Cleaners
- Strong Fumes
To ensure that you suffer from allergic asthma and not merely allergies, it is important to receive an official diagnosis. Then, you can begin developing an asthma attack action plan.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Allergic Asthma?
Generally speaking, your doctor will determine whether or not you suffer from allergic asthma by combining two tests.
Skin Prick Test
The purpose of a skin prick test is to determine whether or not you suffer from a certain allergy, as well as how severe the allergy is. Doctors perform skin prick tests by “injecting” an allergen directly into your skin and then measuring the amount of redness and swelling that occurs. Generally, your doctor will test a number of allergens at once, but don’t worry. These tests are not overly uncomfortable, and your skin will be back to normal before you know it.
Along with the standard skin prick test, your doctor has to determine whether or not your allergies are directly linked to your breathing problems. After poking your skin with the allergens, your doctor will perform a spirometry test to measure your lung capacity. This provides important information as to how your allergies might be affecting your airways. If inflammation occurs directly after your skin prick test, you probably suffer from allergic asthma.
Additionally, your doctor will likely monitor your lung health with other lung tests such as peak flow measurement. Not only are spirometry and peak flow excellent tools for asthma diagnosis, they also assist with asthma monitoring.
The best way to gain control over your asthma is to be aware of what is going on in your body. Listen to your lungs, avoid triggers, and monitor your symptoms. Your health should be a priority no matter what it takes!