The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis. To diagnose your child's asthma, your specialist at Boston Children's Hospital uses a combination of medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests.
At Children's, your doctor will first measure your child's lung function to determine the severity of the asthma medication can reverse and prevent airway inflammation and treat narrowing airways.
Asthma is usually easy to diagnose, but sometimes patients who just have a cough can be harder to diagnose, as it could be mistaken for a common cold. Typically episodes of wheezing rule out other possibilities, and confirm an asthma diagnosis.
- a device used by your child's physician to assess lung function
- one of the simplest, most common pulmonary function tests
- Your child exhales into the spirometer as completely and forcefully as possible. The spirometer measures both the amount of air expelled and how quickly the air was expelled from the lungs.
- Results are compared to the average expected in someone of the same age, height, sex and race.
Peak flow monitoring (PFM)
- measures the amount of air a person can blow out of the lungs
- can reveal narrowing of the airways well in advance of an asthma attack
- used mainly by children with moderate to severe and persistent asthma
- can help determine the effectiveness of your child's asthma management and treatment plan as well as what triggers the asthma attacks
- a small machine that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood
- a small sensor (similar to a bandage) is taped on your child's finger or toe
- When the oximeter is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless and the red light doesn't get hot.
- chest X-rays
- blood tests analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood
- allergy tests
After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child’s condition. Then we meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.
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