What is Asthma?

Learn what asthma is and what causes it.

Rob Lamberts, MD
5-minute read
Episode #32

How Asthma is Diagnosed

People coming into the office or ER with repeated episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath undoubtedly have asthma.

So how is asthma diagnosed? Sometimes it is easy, but other times it is subtle. People coming into the office or ER with repeated episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath undoubtedly have asthma. For others, doing lung function tests is the only way to uncover the problem. In these tests, the person blows hard into a tube that measures the velocity of the air leaving the lungs. People with airway obstruction will take longer to breathe out, which usually means they have asthma.

The diagnosis is more difficult in the person with intermittent symptoms. It’s a known fact that setting foot into a doctor’s office can make symptoms mysteriously disappear. That is especially true with young children. The symptoms and the obstruction from asthma sometimes only happen outside of the office, especially in asthma that occurs with exercise. In this case, I often use a trial of asthma medication to see if the symptoms get better.

Quick and Dirty Tips

So here are my quick and dirty tips for this article:

Tip 1: Breathe

I recommend that you breathe every day.  If you don’t, it will ruin your day.

Tip 2: Know the Symptoms of Asthma

You may want to visit your doctor to be evaluated for asthma if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A cough that won’t go away

  • A cough that comes back every year around allergy season

  • Trouble catching your breath with exercise

  • Wheezing

Tip 3: Read My Next Article if You Want to Know More About Asthma

In my next article I’ll discuss how to treat asthma and how to prevent asthma attacks.

If you have questions you want answered, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can find me on Twitter as @housecalldoc and on Facebook under “House Call Doctor.”

Let me remind you that this podcast is for informational purposes only. My goal is to add to your medical knowledge and translate some of the weird medical stuff you hear, so when you do go to your doctor, your visits will be more fruitful. I don’t intend to replace your doctor; he or she is the one you should always consult about your own medical condition.

Catch you next time!  Stay Healthy!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.