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How is asthma diagnosed?

Answered by Dr Ellie Cannon
8th September 2015
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Unfortunately, there is no single easy test that healthcare professionals can offer your little one to determine if they have asthma. They will often ask a number of questions that will help them make a diagnosis, such as whether your little one has any allergic conditions such as hay fever or eczema which also occur alongside asthma. They may also ask if anyone else in the family has any allergies or asthma, or if your little one had any breathing difficulties as a baby or was born prematurely. They may also listen to your child’s chest to see if there are any wheezing sounds. Although it may seem like a lot of questions, this will help your health professional to build a better picture of your child’s life so far, and consider some of the things that might be causing their symptoms.

If your child is old enough your health professional might also want to use something known as a peak flow meter to measure how well your child’s lungs are working. This involves blowing into a small hand-held device to measure how fast they can blow air out of their lungs in one breath, and your child will be asked to do this over a period of time to monitor their progress.

It is difficult to diagnose asthma in children under the age of 2. This is because many young children experience wheezing at some point in their lives (for example after a cold) and many of them will stop as their airways grow. It is also very difficult to accurately test how well the lungs of a young child are working. A peak flow meter can be used to test for lung function in older children, but they are not suitable for use in little ones under the age of 6.

 

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