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Diagnosing Asthma

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Has your doctor diagnosed you with asthma? Getting a proper asthma diagnosis is the first step to self-managing this chronic lung disease. After diagnosing your asthma, the doctor can prescribe the most effective and safest asthma medications to treat your asthma symptoms so you can live an active and productive life.

Problems With Diagnosing Asthma

The problem with diagnosing asthma is most of the time patients do not have obvious asthma symptoms when they arrive at the doctor’s office. For instance, you may have coughed and wheezed for a week, and by the time you see your doctor, you have no symptoms at all. Then suddenly, when you least expect it, you might have asthma attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Sometimes allergies to seasonal pollen or weather changes can trigger asthma attack symptoms. Other times, a viral infection such as cold or flu can trigger asthma attack symptoms. Smoking can worsen asthma symptoms, as can sinusitis or environmental allergies. Even exercise or sudden stress or allergies to aspirin or other medications can cause asthma attack symptoms.

If you have asthma, you may go for weeks to months without having any asthma symptoms. That makes diagnosing asthma even more difficult -- unless you do some homework, figure out your asthma triggers and causes of asthma, and help your doctor make an accurate asthma diagnosis. Once an accurate diagnosis is made, you can learn to recognize and treat your asthma symptoms with the right medications so you don’t have asthma symptoms that can interfere with your daily life.

Diagnosing Asthma and Your Doctor

Your doctor or asthma specialist plays the first and most significant role in helping you get control of your asthma. Not only does your doctor serve as the one who can accurately diagnose and prescribe treatment for your asthma, your doctor may become a close, dependable friend who can give you support when your concerns turn into ongoing worries and anxieties.

Not sure which type of doctor is right for you? See WebMD's Asthma Specialists.

At the initial exam, your doctor will obtain a detailed medical history, including any information on asthma symptoms, how you feel, known asthma and allergy triggers, your activity level and diet, your home and work environment, and family history.  During this evaluation, it is important that you talk openly with your doctor about your asthma symptoms and triggers. Some questions you might consider beforehand include:

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When Is Your Asthma Worse?

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