Medical History for Asthma - Topic Overview Asthma usually is diagnosed based on the history of
symptoms, a physical exam, lung function tests, and laboratory tests. The
medical history is especially important if you or your child does not have
symptoms at the time of the visit.
Your doctor will probably ask whether you or your
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Has sudden severe episodes or recurrent episodes
of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, and how frequently this
occurs. Has colds that "go to the chest" or take more than 10 days
to get over. Coughs, wheezes, or has shortness of breath during a
particular season or time of the year. Coughs, wheezes, or has
shortness of breath in certain places (such as a certain room in the house) or
when exposed to certain things, such as animals, cigarette smoke, or
perfumes. Coughs, wheezes, or has shortness of breath when exposed
to cold air or smoke. Uses any medicines that aid breathing, and
how often the medicine is taken.
In the past 4 weeks, have you or your child had coughing, wheezing,
or shortness of breath:
In the early morning? After moderate
exercise or other physical activity? After laughter, tickling, or
excitement? That has awakened you at night?
Your doctor will want to know whether you or your child
A previous history of an allergy or
sinusitis, or a family history of asthma or
allergies. A history of
heartburn. A history of
mucus-producing tissues that project into the nose
( nasal polyps) in yourself or a close
relative. Ever smoked cigarettes ( teens and adults) or if anyone in
your home smokes. A hobby of woodworking or photography. Asthma
symptoms may be caused by exposure to substances such as wood resins and other
chemicals that are used in these hobbies.
occupational asthma is suspected in teens or adults, your doctor may ask the following questions and ask you to begin keeping a
work diary giving detailed information about exposures and symptoms. What kind of work do you do? What do you do at
work? Be as specific as possible. Do you think your breathing or
other medical problems are related to your work? Do your symptoms
improve when you are not at work, such as over weekends or on
vacations? Are you now or have you ever been exposed to dust,
fumes, or gases?
Your doctor may also ask how your symptoms affect you
and what you understand about asthma.
Because of the symptoms, do you or your child:
Miss work or school? How often? Ever
have to go to the hospital? Avoid sports or physical
activities? Feel your life is being disrupted?
Do you realize that:
Even if you or your child doesn't have symptoms,
asthma may be affecting your lungs or your child's lungs? Medicines can control