Asthma symptoms – wheezing, persistent coughing, difficulty breathing – can be scary and uncomfortable. Because these symptoms can caused by many other conditions, such as allergies, sinus infections, and bronchial disorders, specialists in the Sutter Health network use a variety of tests to accurately diagnose asthma. With the right diagnosis, experts can help you reduce triggers and ease symptoms.
For most allergy tests, your blood or skin is exposed to allergens then closely monitored to see if there is an allergic reaction. Common allergy tests include a blood test, a skin prick or scratch test, intradermal skin test or patch skin testing.
This test measures how sensitive your airways are by repeatedly measuring your Breathing While You Exercise (PDF), breathe in cold air, or breathe in the chemical methacholine.
A chest X-ray or electrocardiogram (EKG) can help your doctor deduce whether your symptoms are being caused by asthma, another disease or an obstruction.
For some people, substances found in their workplace can cause their airways to swell and narrow. This can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing.
Pulmonary Function Tests
These lung function tests measure how well your lungs can take in and release air. Spirometry and Peak Airflow Tests (PDF) are among the most commonly used to measure how fast and how much air you can breathe in and out.
Once you are diagnosed with asthma, plan to see your primary care doctor or pulmonologist twice a year for “asthma only” appointments. For tips on how to prepare for these visits, read our article on maximizing your asthma care.