Asthma - Symptoms and Diagnosis

Mostly, bronchial asthma starts in childhood. Typical symptoms include recurrent attacks of irritable cough for no apparent reason or persistent cough after bronchitis or other respiratory infection - first signs of hypersensitivity of the bronchi.

The coughing fits occur especially at night; possibly a tough, glassy mucus will be coughed off. Sometimes you can already hear a whistling sound (wheezing) while exhaling. The affected person may have a tightness over the chest.

Asthma: symptoms and typical symptoms

Not infrequently, these first symptoms are relatively low, so the diagnosis is made after an acute asthma attack. The signs described above are much more pronounced. Symptoms of an acute asthma attack are:

  • Shortness of breath or shortness of breath (ie faster breathing)
  • difficult and prolonged exhalation
  • no more air to talk
  • Breathing is easier for the person concerned when he is bent over, leaning on his arms and pulling up his shoulders
  • Breathing whistling noises (gills) over the chest
  • bluish discoloration of the lips, later the skin due to the lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Tightness in the chest
  • heartbeat
  • Exhaustion, anxiety, restlessness

If these symptoms are not or not sufficiently treated, the asthma attack can be life-threatening - a so-called status asthmaticus, which can last for hours to days. This status asthmaticus requires intensive care.

Diagnosing asthma

On the one hand, the diagnosis serves to diagnose bronchial asthma in the first place. On the other hand, it is used to check whether and how the treatment for asthma affects patients.

At the initial diagnosis, the doctor will first ask for a detailed description of the symptoms, signs and symptoms. These include, for example, possible triggers or dependencies on the environment, the description of personal fitness, the question of pre-existing conditions, allergies, smoking habits and family stress.

Thereafter, the physical examination is mainly followed by listening to the lungs to finally make a diagnosis.

Asthma: examinations necessary

Especially for children, further examinations may be carried out; also to exclude other diseases such as cystic fibrosis and to distinguish asthma from spastic bronchitis. Examinations include x-rays, blood tests, pulmonary function tests (spirometry, body plethysmography) and allergy tests.

With the peak flow meter, the maximum flow rate of the exhaled air can be measured. This is a good parameter to check the severity of asthma and thus the effectiveness of the therapy. In addition, this investigation can be carried out easily with the small device itself. Therefore, it is well suited for self-measurement at home.

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