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An accurate asthma diagnosis helps save your life

Asthma is a common chronic disease in America. It's important that a medical provider accurately diagnoses asthma as early as possible to help prevent life-threatening complications of the condition.

Accurately diagnosing asthma is the only way to learn to control it. Once it's diagnosed, a patient can have an asthma action plan and will be prescribed medications to prevent the serious complications of the disease.

How do doctors diagnose asthma?

Asthma is diagnosed with several tests. A physical exam, family history and test results will reveal if asthma is the most likely cause of your symptoms. If you have allergies and have trouble breathing during exercise, certain times of the year or at night, asthma could be the cause.

It's most likely that you will need a lung function test. This test is called a spirometry. It measures how much oxygen you can breathe in and out. It measures the speed at which you can breathe out as well. You're then given asthma medications. If your results improve following the treatment, then your diagnosis is likely to be asthma.

What happens if you don't get the right diagnosis?

Initially, a patient may recover after receiving treatment at a hospital, but asthma is likely to recur. It's a chronic condition, so appropriate medical care and an emergency action plan has to be in place for a patient to live comfortably.

If you're misdiagnosed, there's a chance you could end up back in the hospital struggling to breath or could die from your condition. With injuries or deaths, a missed diagnosis could lead to a malpractice claim.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, "Asthma," accessed March 30, 2018

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