There are some key asthma tests your doctor will use in diagnosing asthma. Some asthma tests, such as lung (or pulmonary) function tests, measure lung function. Other asthma tests can help determine if you are allergic to specific foods, pollen, or other particles. Blood tests give a picture of your overall health; specific tests also measure levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), a key antibody that’s released during an allergic reaction. While everyone makes IgE, people who have allergies make larger quantities of this protective protein.
For many people, asthma attacks may happen more often in the winter.
"There are two challenges for people with asthma in the winter. One is that they spend more time inside. The other is that it’s cold outside," says H. James Wedner, MD, an asthma expert at Washington University in St. Louis.
While you’re indoors, you breathe in asthma triggers such as mold, pet dander, dust mites, and even fires in the fireplace. When you venture out, you could have an asthma attack from inhaling the cold air...
Lung function tests are asthma tests that assess lung function. The two most common lung function tests used to diagnose asthma are spirometry and methacholine challenge tests.
Spirometry is a simple breathing test that measures how much and how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It is often used to determine the amount of airway obstruction you have. The methacholine challenge test may be performed if your symptoms and screening spirometry do not clearly or convincingly establish a diagnosis of asthma. Your doctor will know which test is best for your situation.
While a chest X-ray is not an asthma test, it may be used to make sure nothing else is causing your asthma symptoms. An X-ray is an image of the body that is created by using low doses of radiation to see internally. X-rays can be used to diagnose a wide range of conditions, from bronchitis to a broken bone. Your doctor may perform an X-ray exam on you in order to see the structures inside your chest, including the heart, lungs, and bones. By viewing your lungs, your doctor can see if asthma is likely to be causing your symptoms.
Evaluation for Heartburn and GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD, is another condition that may worsen asthma. If your doctor suspects this problem, he or she may recommend specific tests to look for it.