Asthma diagnosis in children

Asthma diagnosis in children

The medical history of the child is important for the doctor to be able to diagnose asthma in children. Small children cannot go through a pulmonary function test, which makes the patients reported symptom history the only way for a diagnosis.

However, there is a common problem to this: Children who have had asthma for a while have in many cases, got used to their condition. They think they are feeling well in spite of insufficient treatment. This is why it is common for children to show surprise at how much better they are feeling after having been treated.

Naturally the doctor will listen to the lungs using a stethoscope, but if the child is not having an on-going asthma attack it will be difficult to hear the difference between a child with asthma and a healthy child.

Another method used to diagnose asthma in children is spirometry. The child will then breathe and exhale through a mouthpiece connected to a machine measuring the lung capacity. Spirometry can be used on most children from the age of five.

It is also possible to measure the amount of nitric oxide the child is exhaling. The theory is that nitric oxide is produced in inflamed lungs.

Another method used to diagnose asthma in children is called a PEF-curve: PEF (Peak Expiratory Flow rate) is a measurement of the fastest air flow a person can achieve during maximum exhalation, and is measured at home using a simple hand held device. You simply blow into the device every morning and night for two weeks and you will get a PEF result number which can be plotted daily on a graph. 

Read more about asthma diagnosis.

UK/GEN/15/0056a                   Date of preparation: December 2015 

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Do you have asthma?

Is it sometimes hard for you to breathe during exercise? Do you suffer from pain or tightness in the chest, whistling sounds or a cough as you inhale cold air, or do you suffer a prolonged cough after colds?  

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