If you find yourself coughing, wheezing or having difficulty breathing in or out, these are some of the typical symptoms that should warrant a trip to see your doctor. He or she will ask you some basic questions to get a handle on what you are experiencing and may also run some simple tests to determine if indeed you could have this chronic, and also common, condition.

Signs of Asthma

Allergies and asthma affect one in four Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But despite the prevalence of both conditions, while allergies can be easy to identify, diagnosing asthma can prove more challenging, since some of the signs and symptoms can come and go or even change over time. That’s why when it comes to breathing issues, you should always seek the expertise of a medical professional. Your doctor will be able to differentiate between asthma and other medical illnesses that could present themselves in a similar way.

In addition to coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties, there are a variety of other signs that people with asthma may experience. These include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or tightness in your chest
  • Weakness during exercise
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping because of coughing or chest discomfort

Keep in mind that everyone is unique, though, so how the disease presents itself may be different from someone else. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep track of your symptoms and make a note of when and how they occur and under what circumstances. This information can often reveal patterns that will help guide your doctor to make a proper diagnosis.

Asthma Testing

Based on the information you provide, your doctor will be able to evaluate your symptoms and decide if they warrant further exploration. He or she will likely perform a physical and will want to get a complete family history to see if this condition runs in your family. If you have allergies or eczema, this is important to mention, since these can also make you more prone to asthma.

After undergoing a physical exam, if your doctor suspects that asthma is a possibility, the next step is often undergoing some simple lung function tests. Some of the common types that may be used include:


  • A spirometer, which requires you to breathe deeply and then blow the air out into a tube to measure how forcefully you are able to expel the air.
  • A peak air flow test, which works in a similar way to capture how powerfully you can exhale.
  • Your doctor may perform these tests twice, once without medication and then will repeat it after having you take a bronchodilator to open up your airways. If your readings improve with the medication, this can often be indicative of asthma.
  • A chest x-ray may also be used to get a clearer picture of your lungs.

The Diagnosis

If your doctor confirms that you do have asthma, you will usually be given an asthma management or treatment plan to help you manage and treat your condition. With proper education and medication, most cases of asthma can be well-controlled so it won’t interfere with your daily activities. Your management plan should include detailed information about what you should avoid in order to prevent having symptoms, as well as directions for taking your medication properly and monitoring your condition to ensure it isn’t getting worse.