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Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment

The following information is adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For links to more information, check out the Asthma Resources page.

How do I know if I or my child have asthma?

It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Have a doctor or other health care provider check how well your or your child's lungs work and check for allergies to help you find out if you or your child have asthma. A doctor or health care provider may ask about:

  • Coughing a lot, especially at night.
  • Breathing problems after physical activity or at certain times of year.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Wheezing.
  • Colds lasting more than 10 days.
  • If anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems.
  • Your home such as pets, pests, or tobacco smoke.
  • Days missed from school or work.
  • Trouble doing certain things.

The doctor or health care provider may do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working.

How is asthma treated?

Learn about Treatment for Asthma
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

You can control your asthma. Take your medicine exactly as your doctor or health care provider tells you and stay away from your asthma triggers. Medicine for asthma is different for each person. Some asthma medicines are breathed in (inhalers), and some medicines are pills. There are two types:

  • Quick-relief medicines—control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If quick-relief medicines are used a lot, visit your doctor or health care provider to see if a different medicine is needed.
  • Long-term control medicines—help you have fewer and milder attacks, but do not help while you are having an asthma attack. These medicines are taken even when there are no asthma symptoms.
With a doctor's or health care provider's help, make your own Asthma Action Plan in your preferred language. Decide who should have a copy of the plan (school nurse, day care staff, grandparents) and where the action plan should be kept. Asthma Action Plans describe the following:
  • How to identify allergens or irritants to avoid.
  • How to know if you are having an asthma attack and what to do.
  • Which medicines to take and when to take them.
  • When to call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
  • Who to contact in an emergency.

Sample Asthma Action Plans: