Once you’ve made your appointment with one of our specialists at the Mount Sinai Asthma program, we will evaluate your medical history, conduct a physical exam and evaluate your symptoms. Some symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing (a whistling sound in the chest)
- Chest tightness or coughing
- In addition, our specialists might conduct one of the following tests to determine if you have asthma and its level of severity.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Pulmonary function tests assess your lung function or capacity. The tests involve normal and deep breaths as well as breathing out as hard as you can into a tube. Occasionally you will be asked to briefly hold your breath. Your physician will use your results in conjunction with your symptoms to assess the severity of your asthma as well as your response to treatment. Some of these tests are highly specialized and will provide information about your small compared to your large airways. In addition, a simple breathing test called FeNO will help assess how much allergic inflammation you have in your lungs. Results of such studies will help your physician design a better treatment plan for you.
Methacholine Challenge Test
This test is used to establish a diagnosis of hyperreactive airways. We will ask you to breathe through your mouth a mist of placebo (salt water) first and then increasing amounts of the drug Methacholine. After each mist you breathe in, we will measure your lung function. The test will end when you experience significant asthma symptoms (such as wheezing, coughing, and/or chest tightness) and/or your lung function has decreased and/or you have received the highest dose of Methacholine that we give. At the end of the test, you will receive a bronchodilator medication, which will relieve any symptoms that you may have.
Allergy Skin Testing
Allergy skin testing is performed to assess your sensitivity to multiple common allergens including grasses, trees, molds, dust mites, animal dander, etc. The test involves placing a drop of various allergy solutions on the inner surface of your forearm, lightly pricking the skin under each drop, and measuring the swelling or redness that may occur. Your doctor may also choose to evaluate your allergic status by a simple blood test. These results are important since patients with allergic asthma may receive a different treatment approach than those patients without allergies.