Diagnosing Asthma

During your appointment, our specialists will evaluate your symptoms, complete your medical history, and conduct a physical exam. We may complete one of the following tests to diagnose and better understand your condition.

Pulmonary Function Tests

These tests help us better understand how well your lungs are working (called lung function or capacity). These tests involve breathing into a tube and briefly holding your breath. These tests are typically repeated over time so we can see how well your treatment is working. Some of these tests are highly specialized and provide important information that helps us create a personalized treatment plan for you.

Methacholine Challenge Test

This test tells us how responsive or reactive your airways are. 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), 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 should relieve any symptoms you may have.

Allergy Skin Testing

Allergy skin testing shows us your sensitivity to common allergens such as grasses, trees, molds, dust mites, and animal dander. We will place a drop of various allergy solutions on the inner surface of your forearm, lightly pricking the skin under each drop, and measuring any swelling or redness that may occur. Your doctor may also choose to perform a simple blood test. These results are important, as patients with allergic asthma may require different treatment than patients without allergies.

Video option from National Jewish health: