How is asthma diagnosed?

asthma refers to an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, causing a swelling and narrowing of the airways, resulting in difficulties in breathing. The bronchial tubes can become exceedingly sensitive to irritants or allergens that cause them to constrict. As the airways begin to react, the muscles around them tighten, causing them to narrow and reduce the flow of air into the lungs. The cells in the airways begin to produce mucus in amounts that are above normal, leading to congestion, further narrowing the airways.

Some of the causes of asthma include exposure to smoke from burning wood or tobacco, air pollution, inhalation of perfumes or cleaning products that are respiratory irritants and upper respiratory tract infections like sinusitis or influenza. Exposure to cold weather, emotional excitement or stress and physical exertion are other known causes. Asthmatic attacks and symptoms are often linked with hereditary factors. The symptoms of an asthmatic attack include wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, difficulties experienced while speaking and a tightness of the chest.

One of the most well recommended remedies for treating asthma is honey because of its well known anti microbial properties. It is believed that inhaling air which has come into contact with a jug of honey will help soothe the respiratory tubes and ease the breathing process. Figs are useful in draining off phlegm, and are therefore recommended in the treatment of asthma. Three or four dry figs, cleaned and soaked in a glass of water overnight should be taken, along with the water that they were soaked in to relieve discomfort. Another age old remedy for asthma is Indian gooseberry mixed with honey, taken each morning. A concoction of a few cloves of garlic, boiled in milk and taken once a day, is an excellent means of arresting asthma in the early stages. Similarly, steaming ginger tea can keep asthmatic attacks at bay and should be taken in the morning and evening. People suffering from asthma should be careful in their dietary inclusions and avoid foods like rice, sugar and curds, which produce phlegm. Fried foods, alcoholic beverages tea, coffee, sauces and other refined foods should also be avoided as they could aggravate an onset of an asthmatic attack. Breathing exercises that involve inhaling to the count of four, holding your breath for the next four counts and slowly exhaling for eight counts has proved beneficial in strengthening the respiratory tract and chest muscles. A conscious relaxation of the muscles of the chest while undertaking any strenuous activity is recommended for people suffering from asthma.

answered by G M

asthma is diagnosed after the fulfillment of a number of criteria like the readings from a peak flow meter, response to anti-inflammatory drugs, factors of predisposition, and measuring the amount of exhaled carbon dioxide. Peak flow rates indicate the amount of constriction of the bronchial passages as the amount of air that is exhaled directly corresponds to this amount.

When a patient with a possible case of asthma first enters a medical room with breathing problems, there are a few possibilities that have to be eliminated first; for example, conditions like COPD, emphysema and bronchitis tend to exhibit similar symptoms to asthma. The swallowing disorder dysphagia can also present the typical symptoms of wheezing and breathing difficulty. After, this a series of tests involving the peak flow meter are administered. The peak flow meter measures the volume of air that is expelleed from the lungs by asking the patient to blow through a tube with the calibration on the other end. The peak flow meter measures whether a patient falls under a series of zones of safety, green being a near perfect condition and red requiring immediate emergency medical aid. The test administered measure the base rates when the patient is not in a state of asthmatic attack. Then, anti-inflammatory medicine is given to open the airways and then again, the peak flow is measured. Finally, the measurement of peak flow is taken after an allergen is introduced.  

There are some other signs to consider after this like a history of asthma in the family as well as the presence of autoimmune disorders like eczema. This would indicate that the patient is very sensitive to a wide range of allergies. In an emergency room or a casualty situation, patients are identified as asthmatics after measuring the amount of carbon dioxide that is exhaled as well as exhaled nitrous oxide. When cells of the respiratory tract go into an inflammation mode, they release nitrous oxide and if this is measured then it is an indication that the person may be asthmatic. In children, asthma is sometimes induced by exercise and to track this also, lung performance tests are performed under exercise conditions and then the peak flow meter is applied to measure the severity of the disease. Pronouncing a diagnosis on very young children cannot be done using a peak flow meter; instead, it is done by analyzing family history and giving the child a bronchodialator medication to test effectiveness of breathing.

answered by G M

Diagnosing Asthma

When you think about asthma, you may immediately picture a person wheezing and gasping for breath until he or she takes an inhaler. Asthma is serious and if left untreated, it could lead to severe medical problems, and in very severe cases, death. It is imperative that children and adults alike seek help when they suffer from these attacks. Diagnosing asthma is not all too difficult for doctors and it is a relatively painless process for the patient.

Here is a look at how asthma is diagnosed.

  • Physical Exam: The first thing that your doctor will want to do in order to assess asthma is a complete and thorough health and physical exam. Your doctor is looking for your general health as assessing your problems with upper respiratory issues. Your health care provider will want to know if you have a family history of asthma and allergies. Allergic conditions can point straight to asthma. He or she may also listen to your breathing to listen for signs of wheezing or other labored breathing.
  • Lung Test: The next step is to test the function of your lungs. This is not a difficult test and children and adults can take part in this test. A tool called a spirometry is used to measuring the maximum about of air your can take in and out. It will also measure the amount of air you can exhale in one second. The spirometry is a small machine that you will breath into to measure the air. If the measurements are abnormal, he or she may want to perform the test again. Other tests may be ordered. A challenge test is another common asthma test that is performed in a doctor’s office. Your doctor will attempt to trigger an asthmatic reaction while you are under supervision.
These are the most common tests performed for asthma, however, other tests may be ordered. It is imperative that your doctor run all the necessary tests so that he or she can give you the help you need.

answered by A K

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