How is asthma diagnosed?

To diagnose asthma, your doctor will review your medical history, family history, and symptoms. He or she will be interested in any history of breathing problems you might have had, as well as a family history of asthma or other lung conditions, allergies, or a skin disease called eczema. It is important that you describe your symptoms in detail (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness), including when and how often they occur.

Your doctor will also perform a physical examination and listen to your heart and lungs.

There are many tests your doctor might perform, including pulmonary function tests, allergy tests, blood tests, and chest and sinus X-rays. All of these tests help your doctor determine if asthma is indeed present and if there are other conditions affecting it.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/10/2013.


  • Smith AD, Cowan JO, Filsell S, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004;169(4):473-478. Diagnosing Asthma Accessed 6/11/2013.
  • American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Asthma Symptoms and Diagnosis Accessed 6/11/2013.
  • Kaminsky DA. Chapter 6. Asthma. In: Hanley ME, Welsh CH, eds. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2003. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment in Pulmonary Medicine Accessed 6/11/2013.

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