Diagnosing Asthma

If you suspect that you or your child are suffering from asthma your G.P. will be able to give you a diagnosis based on:
  • Whether there’s a family history of asthma;
  • The pattern of the symptoms;
  • A physical chest examination;
  • Peak flow/lung function test (child must be over 5 years old);
  • A trial of asthma treatment.
Before confirming or ruling out asthma, your doctor may also ask if there are any conditions, such as eczema or hay fever. You may also be asked to keep a diary of which symptoms you or your child have - and when you have them.
The following tests may be performed by your doctor to confirm the correct diagnosis.
  • Spirometry; a simple breathing test that gives measurements of lung function including a reversibility test that measures lung function before and after a dose of reliever to see if it has improved your lung function. This can be helpful with asthma diagnosis.
  • Peak Expiratory flow rate measurements (PEFR); another simple breathing test which may be measured over a period of time, when one has symptoms or even when symptom free, performed in a GP surgery, hospital or even at home.
  • An exercise test to check if exercise worsens the symptoms


Diagnosing Children

Asthma is difficult to diagnose in children under the age of two. This is because wheezing and respiratory infections, such as bronchiolitis, are common in young children and the symptoms are often very similar to asthma.

If your child is under two and the symptoms are bad or persistent, your doctor may decide to give them a trial of asthma medication to help make a diagnosis.


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