Asthma in Children (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Diagnosing asthma in babies and toddlers is often very difficult. Symptoms may be the same as those of other diseases, such as infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia), sinuses (sinusitis), and small airways (bronchiolitis). If you have a very young child, spirometry is not practical. So the diagnosis is made based on your report of symptoms.
Lung function tests
A newer test to monitor asthma is the NIOX nitric oxide test system. This test measures nitric oxide in exhaled air. A decrease in nitric oxide suggests that treatment may be reducing inflammation caused by asthma. But some experts believe that this test is not useful for monitoring asthma.11
Tests for other diseases
Asthma sometimes is hard to diagnose because symptoms vary widely from child to child and within each child over time. Symptoms may be the same as those of other conditions, such as influenza or other viral respiratory infections. Tests that may be done to determine whether diseases other than asthma are causing your child's symptoms include:
You need to monitor your child's condition and have regular checkups to keep asthma under control and to review and possibly update your child's asthma action plan. The frequency of checkups depends on how your child's asthma is classified. Checkups are recommended:
During checkups, your doctor will ask you and your child whether symptoms and peak expiratory flow have held steady, improved, or become worse. He or she will also ask about asthma attacks during exercise, at night, or after laughing or crying hard. You and your child track this information in an asthma diary.
Your child may be asked to bring the peak expiratory flow meter and inhaler to an appointment so your doctor can see how he or she uses them. Based on the results, your child's asthma category may change. And your doctor may change the medicines your child uses or how much medicine he or she uses.
Tests to identify triggers
If your child has persistent asthma and takes medicine every day, your doctor may ask about his or her exposure to substances (allergens) that cause an allergic reaction. For more information about tests for allergies, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis.
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