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Confirmation of the diagnosis of "bronchial asthma"

The diagnosis of "bronchial asthma" is confirmed by the following examinations:

  • Pulmonary function test (spirometry): For this you have to breathe out into a device ("spirometer") as quickly as possible after inhaling as deeply as possible. The test measures the percent of your total breathing volume which you can breathe out in the first second of the test. This is called the “Forced exhalation volume in one second” (FEV1). If it is below 75%, bronchial asthma is confirmed.
  • Provocation test: If you do not have any breathing difficulties at the time of the examination, a test will be carried out to determine whether asthma can be triggered by a specific drug ("Metacholine") or by physical exertion, and the pulmonary function test will then be repeated. If the FEV1 is more than 20% lower than before the provacation, the diagnosis of bronchial asthma is confirmed.
  • Self-measurements of the maximum respiratory flow: Your doctor will give or prescribe a so-called "peak flow meter", a small tube with a number display, into which you have to blow as hard as possible several times a day at home for a week, especially if you have respiratory problems. Please perform the test at least twice daily (morning and evening) for 14 days and note down the results of all the tests you carried out. If the measured values ​​fluctuate by more than 10% per day, it is probably asthma. You can calculate the fluctuation yourself with the following formula: Highest minus lowest value of the day divided by the average of the day. Then calculate the average fluctuation for the first and the second seven day period.
  • Improvement of the lung function through the drug salbutamol: If after inhaling 1-2 sprays of salbutamol (corresponds to 200-400 µg ) the lung function value ("FEV1") measured by spirometry (see avove) increases by more than 12% or more than 200 ml, the diagnosis of bronchial asthma is confirmed.
  • Improvement of lung function by inhaling a cortisone-containing spray (e.g. budesonide): If after four weeks of treatment with a cortisone spray for inhalation, the lung function value ("FEV1") increases by more than 12% or more than 200 ml, the diagnosis of bronchial asthma is confirmed.

If the diagnosis of asthma is confirmed, the initial therapy is given.

Prof. a.D. Dr. Andreas Sönnichsen

Andreas Sönnichsen

Head of the Department of General Medicine and Family Medicine, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna

Prof. a.D. Dr.

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