One of my main goals in treating asthma is finding out if allergies are contributing to its cause. Once we determine the cause, it’s so much easier to prevent and treat.
3 tests we do when a patient comes in with asthma
- After taking a complete history and narrowing down potential allergens, I’ll request the ImmunoCap blood test. It accurately measures IgE antibodies and can help me determine what specific allergens you are allergic to.
- Then I’ll perform a relatively new test called the NIOX Flex Test. This measures levels of nitric oxide in your breath, and can determine if you have allergic inflammation in your bronchiole tubes of your lungs. You simply blow into a machine that analyzes your breath for nitric oxide. If levels are high it means there is an allergic inflammation present and that could tell me whether you’d benefit from inhaled or oral corticosteroids. Patients already on inhaled cortisone can be monitored with this test to determine if their dose can be lowered or stopped completely.
- I also use the traditional way of assessing asthma, the pulmonary function test, called spirometry. This tells me how constricted your respiratory airways are, but not whether there is inflammation present.
The Niox Flex Test and Spirometry breathing tests can only be done in a doctor’s office.
Tests you can do at home to assess your asthma
- Peak flow monitors are an inexpensive hand held device that can measure how fast air moves out of your lungs. You blow forcefully into the device and it provides a number that represents your peak flow. It is very helpful in managing your symptoms, your medication and in preventing an asthma attack. In my book, Dr. Dean Mitchell’s Allergy and Asthma Solution, I have a template for an asthma zone grid, which helps patients distinguish between the excellent zone, careful zone and danger zone, depending on their peak flow results. I teach my patients how to set up their asthma zone grid, and we discuss how they should manage their medications, depending on which zone they’re in. This is so important because it allows patients to safely adjust their medication without having to depend on their doctor every minute. Ask your doctor or our office for an Asthma Zone Grid, it should be part of your asthma program.
- Asthma Control Test. The great news about this test is that no needles or blowing is involved. This is a written test, or you can do it easily online. You answer five questions about your asthma, rating your symptoms on a scale of 1 to 5. A score below 19 can mean your asthma is not under control. Click here to take the test.
To get more information and to get tested, contact us today.