Asthma is a chronic disease. It is characterized by symptoms such as severe breathlessness, feeling of tightness or pain in the chest, and uncontrollable coughing or wheezing. Since these symptoms may also be caused by other respiratory ailments including respiratory infection or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is essential for the patient to undergo a physical examination to confirm the cause.

Tests for asthma
Dr Vishal Sehgal, Country Head, Portea Intensive Specialty Homecare says, “Patients displaying symptoms of asthma usually undertake lung function tests to evaluate the flow of air in and out of lungs during the breathing process. The physician might recommend tests such as Spirometry or Peak flow test. The lung function testing is generally carried out before and after administering a medication known as a bronchodilator that helps in opening the airways. In case the bronchodilator helps a patient’s lung performance to improve then it is likely to be a case of asthma.”

Treatment of asthma
There are symptoms that serve as a warning of asthma attacks, but there are no definitive causes identified yet. It is a chronic disease that causes disruption in daily activities, makes it difficult for children to attend school or grown-ups to report to work, and brings down the overall quality of life. Being chronic in nature, asthma generally needs life-long medical assistance revolving around daily medication and monitoring of the condition. “The efficacy of any asthma treatment plan includes steps like identifying the triggers that cause an attack and taking preventive steps to avoid them. Daily medication helps in keeping asthma under control, but in the event of an attack, SOS relief medication in the form of a quick-relief-inhaler is recommended. Monitoring of respiratory process through devices like a Peak flow meter is also recommended. A peak flow meter is a simple, but a crucial device that measures the maximum airflow from lungs. In case the meter reads lower than normal peak flow, it might mean that the lungs are not performing well, and the patient’s asthma is worsening.”

Since a chronic disease like asthma requires round-the-clock monitoring and access to specialized care, it is necessary to continuously coordinate with the treating physician. Patients can also opt for diagnostic tests at home.