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.