Asthma can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms often resemble those of other respiratory conditions or those of heart disease. Diagnosis is usually based on a description of symptoms, a comprehensive medical history, and a physical exam. Diagnostic tests for people 6 years of age and older include functional respiratory exploration and provocation tests.
The pulmonary function represents a series of tests to measure the respiratory function. The most common is the spirometry test, which uses a device called a spirometer to measure the amount and rate (flow) of air entering and then exiting the airways. Another test for measuring respiratory function is peak expiratory flow assessment . Using a peak flow meter, the rate at which air is expelled from the lungs is measured. This device can be used to monitor asthma at home.
The purpose of provocation tests is to trigger asthma-related symptoms in people with asthma. This procedure may be used if your respiratory function test results appear normal but asthma is still suspected. You will be asked to inhale a substance or exercise to try to constrict your airways. You will then be asked to take the spirometry test again to observe their reaction.
Other tests may also be done to rule out conditions that might be causing similar symptoms.