Asthma: Tests and Diagnosis


Not everyone experiences asthma the same way. Symptoms vary from person to person. And, your symptoms can change from one asthma episode to the next. A doctor can diagnose asthma with an exam and some simple tests.


First, the doctor may ask about your family history. Asthma and allergies (which often trigger asthma) can run in families. The doctor will also ask about things that seem to trigger your breathing problems.

Physical Exam

The doctor will listen to your breathing and look for signs of asthma and allergies. These signs include wheezing and a runny or stuffy nose. The doctor will also look for allergic skin conditions (such as eczema).

Lung Function Test

The doctor will perform a spirometry test. This measures how much air you can draw in and blow out of your lungs. It also measures how quickly you can blow the air out of your lungs. If your spirometry scores are lower than normal, you may be given medicine and asked to do the test again. This will show if medicine can improve your breathing.

Other Tests

The doctor may recommend other tests. You may be given a bronchoprovocation test. This is a type of spirometry test done multiple times. During the test, your airways are stimulated with a chemical smell, a blast of cold air or exercise to see how your lungs respond. Other tests include a chest x-ray, an EKG, and an allergy test. You may also be tested for other conditions with symptoms similar to asthma.


If you have asthma, your treatment plan will depend on your specific needs. You may be given medicines for long-term control and for quick relief. Your doctor can help develop an asthma action plan to give you step-by-step instructions on how to manage your asthma.