How is asthma diagnosed?

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2003
Total Posts : 924
   Posted 8/15/2006 3:35 PM (GMT -6)   
I have a few questions about asthma and how it is diagnosed. I thought someone here could offer a little imput as I don't have alot of knowledge about it.
Three or four years ago (and I'm not exactly sure) my husband ran up to me sounding much like he was choking. I could tell no air was getting into his lungs--he could not talk and all I could do was hear him gasp. Thinking that he may be choking, I got behind him and used Heimlich maneuver. In a minute or so, I got him breathing but neither of us really knew what caused this. He used to chew gum alot and I thought perhaps it was related to that.
Needless to say, these episodes have repeated, but of course I cannot get him to see a doctor. (for this) I make him take allergy medication which I think does help--he seems to have an awful lot of mucus in the morning when he wakes up. He had another episode a couple weeks ago while I was in bed sleeping. He started banging on my back and I jumped up and did the H thing again, which is the only thing I know to do. In the last three to four years, I say he has had at least maybe eight of these "attacks". His opinion (and he has had some basic med ed. as a corpsman in the service) is that it is a spasm. So far though, as long as he takes the allergy medicine, he hasn't had one. It scares me really bad because I wonder what he would do when I'm not home.
How is asthma actually diagnosed? The reason I think it may be asthma is because one, there seems to be a relationship with his congestion. After the initial allergy blast in spring and early summer, he stopped with the allergy med. The day prior to this last event, I thought I could "hear" that chesty sound in his voice, if you understand what I am saying here. I do not know anything about the inhalers that many of you use, so maybe you could answer this question. Do you use it at the first sign of chest congestion and would that help avoid a severe episode where you could not breath? Are there any you think are better than others? I would appreciate any opionions/input. Thanks.
Foggie, I just added a title to your post for more responses.

Post Edited By Moderator (Red_34) : 8/15/2006 5:09:43 PM (GMT-6)

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 8/15/2006 6:07 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there Foggie :) First, beg, plead, yell, curse or drag him and get that guy to a doc! It sounds like he needs some testing. Does he smoke? How old is he? Usually docs will do a pulmonary test on the people they suspect has asthma. For my son, they had him breath into a tube before and after a nebulizer treatment to see how much air he was expelling. He is currently on Singulair and Albuterol for seasonal asthma but the doc thinks it may have become true asthma. It sounds like maybe he may have more going on then just allergies. But please, do not buy over the counter inhalers such as Brochaid. If he has something more serious going on, this can do more harm then good. He really needs to get in to see the doc.
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2003
Total Posts : 924
   Posted 8/16/2006 3:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Dear Red,

Thanks for adding the title and for your response. Later on last evening as I was watching TV it dawned on me that I forgot! (quick thinking, right?) To answer some of your questions, yes he does smoke and is 61. He sees several docs regularly for his diabetes. I have been trying to get him to go for quite a while--even got him to see a regular MD which he finally did.(all his others are specialists) Well, he didn't care for the doctor and won't go back. I have been trying to get him to go to another but he is difficult to convince.

There are a couple other things--one is hereditary. He has a small throat (and tonsils) which make it difficult for him to swallow pills. Our granddaughter actually has the same problem. Several times this "choking" has occurred while trying to swallow pills. Right now, crabgrass is bothering him which is one of the things I am sure he has problem with. Ragweed season has already begun (early).

Another thing is when he laughs alot (really hard) he will start coughing bad. Other than these two things, he doesn't appear to get short winded or anything like that--he does exercise. That doesn't make him cough.

He wouldn't use any OTC meds without his endocrinologist approval so I don't have to be concerned over that. I am going to continue to work on him, believe me. I have told him how unfair this was to me if I would be unable to revive him or came home and found him, just because of his stubborness.
Again thanks. I am going to begin bugging him every day, even though I know that's not always the best way do deal with him. He is very good at pretending he is listening sometimes, especially when he doesn't want to hear it. (selective hearing, I think it's called)

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 117
   Posted 8/23/2006 3:45 AM (GMT -6)   
I have a similar thing with my boyfriend, he gets bad breathing attacks, and i say, go see the doc, and he goes, 'what can he tell me'? of corse, i say, well if you know that you wouldnt have to go to the doc, but he would never go.
so finally i decided to try to scare him into going,
i was on the internet, and pretended to be researching breathing problems, and ill tell you, with symptoms like your husband has, you can find 10000000+ web sites that will truly convince him hes on deaths door ( which or corse hes not) and eventually, for his peace of mind, hell go.
sometimes they just need a push to get it done, and really putting a scare into him, will probably make him think of it all the time, every time he gets a little whease, hell feel like rushing to the hospital (hopefully)
so id suggest trying it out this way, let us know how it turns out, and good luck :)

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 59
   Posted 8/23/2006 10:51 PM (GMT -6)   

That boyfriend sure does need to go to a lung doctor or asthma specialist, you may need to be referred to one by your primary medical physician. 

How to get diagnosed as to whether one has a respiratory condition or not, or what it actually is?  The doctors of course have us breathe in and breathe out to hear of any signs of cough or wheeze.  The nurse takes a oxygen count to make sure you have enough oxygen (that's just a simple thing on your finger).  They ask for any family history.  Ask what your symptoms are, etc.  And yes they always ask if you were/are a heavy smoker.  (I was never a smoker).  Usually they'll give you something like Singular (daily pills) or Albuterol an inhaler or Pulmicort inhaler (preventive), or Advair (preventive) a diskus for the asthma.  (See if you could get some samples to try first, as they cost a lot).  They have you check back with them later.  Sometimes they give a person a nebulizer such as Duo Neb.  And yes to correctly diagnose the asthma or the severity of the breathing problem (could be COP-D or Emphysema so one does need to be sure), the hospital has the Pulmonary Function tests. 

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 1/14/2007 12:28 PM (GMT -6)   
My son, William is 2 and was just diagnosed with asthma on the 9th of this month. As for diagnosis, he has been having a really bad cough any time the weather is cold or damp or if he gets a cold. He had pnumonia at 5 1/2 months old and has been on Albuterol for cough as needed ever since, but his ped said he couldn't get a diagnosis of asthma until he was 2(12/28/06). So, we went to the asthma/allergy specialist last week and he said yes, based on his symptoms and family history(my mom has SEVERE allergy-induced asthma) he is asthmatic. He's now on Singulair 1x/day(small pill) and has a nebulizer in case he has a really bad coughing spell. He also told us to use the albuterol if we are away from home and he starts to cough. Well, good news, he hasn't needed anything but the Singulair since that visit, so obviously it's well controlled with Singulair. he doesn't mind taking the medicine as long as he can have some milk afterwards(he has never taken a pill regularly until now, vitamins are liquid). He's been a real trooper. I would definitely take your husband to either an allergy specialist or a pulmonologist(sp?). Since he smokes, it could also be emphazema(sp?)
Good luck.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 178
   Posted 1/16/2007 2:47 PM (GMT -6)   
I would definetly bug him to get in to see a SPECIALIST like Allergist/ASthma doctor, or regular doctor. Sounds like he may have Asthma or something more that that...
Tell the doctor all his symptoms know matter how small they are. Mention everything to the doctor.
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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 257
   Posted 1/16/2007 6:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Dear Foggie: Asthma or a bronchospasm will NOT clear w/H manuever. Whatever is wrong, his airway is becoming blocked & this is VERY SERIOUS. Push, pull, yell at him if necessary to get him to the MD. It's hard to say "I told you so" when the person is in a grave. When he sleeps, make sure he sleeps w/head elevated. People have chocked on mucous & secretions lodged in their throat when sleeping flat; especially people w/GERD are susceptible to this.

Good luck & hope your husband is better soon!

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/19/2007 2:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Take a look at an article I found on asthma diagnosis at and click on Asthma - Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention in the column on the right. I hope it helps.
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