The diagnosis of asthma is based on family history and clinical examinations. Special tests may be needed to help in the further evaluation or management of your child's asthma, such as:
Spirometry is a lung function test that measures airflow obstruction in asthma. When the diagnosis is unclear, it can be used to support the diagnosis of asthma. It also helps to assess severity and your child's response to treatment. Children above 6 years old are usually able to perform this test reliably.
Oscillometry is a special lung function test that can be used for children between 2 and 6 years old.
- Exhaled nitric oxide measurements
Exhaled nitric oxide measurements are used to determine the severity of lung inflammation in asthma and the dose of preventer medication required.
Allergy tests are useful in detecting the allergens that your child may be sensitive to. Skin prick tests and blood tests are commonly used to test for asthma. Children of any age, including babies, can undergo allergy testing. Knowing and avoiding the allergens that trigger your child's asthma will help in its control.
The goals of asthma treatment are to control all asthma symptoms, prevent asthma attacks and allow your child to lead a healthy and normal life. Asthma can be controlled in nearly all children with the right management such as:
These are used during an asthma attack to provide relief. The most commonly used reliever is Salbutamol or Albuterol.
These are called bronchodilators and have the best effect when they are inhaled. They open the airways and relieve symptoms of asthma.
- Usage of preventers or controllers
These are useful when asthma is persistent, attacks are frequent and/or severe. They help to prevent asthma attacks from happening and are usually inhaled. Some examples include:
- Salmeterol and Fluticasone
Preventer medications have to be taken every day. Not all children need preventer medications. Ask your doctor if your child needs to use a preventer for his or her asthma.
- Identification and avoidance of triggers
Your doctor will take a detailed history and discuss with you the avoidance of triggers that may be worsening your child's asthma.
Exercise-induced asthma is suspected when there is a suggestive history: on exercise, there are symptoms of asthma as described above. It may be confirmed with an exercise challenge test. During the test, your child will run on a treadmill machine until at least 80% of his or her maximum heart rate is achieved and maintained for more than 6 to 8 minutes. Your child's lung function will first be assessed before exercising and then at various intervals after he or she has started exercising. If the lung function parameter shows a decrease of at least 12% to 15%, it means that your child has exercise-induced asthma. Children above 5 years old are usually able to perform this test reliably.
If your child has asthma, the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma can be reduced by managing his or her asthma well. Taking additional medications such as a short-acting bronchodilator spray 15 minutes before exercising is also helpful.