Asthma in adults
- exposure to allergens
- physical exertion
- breathing in cold air
- an infection
- a reaction to certain medicines
- chemicals found in the workplace (it might be helpful to note if your symptoms come on only when you're at work)
- other environmental pollutants, such as cigarette smoke
Your doctor will probably use a device called a peak flow meter to help work out whether you have asthma, and to monitor progress of your treatment. With a peak flow meter, you blow into a tube as hard as you can and as quickly as possible.
This gives your doctor a measure of how severe your breathing is affected. If measured regularly, over time, these readings can also help reveal how well or badly your asthma is being controlled.
Your doctor may also suggest some tests to see how your lungs are working to help with a diagnosis.
It's worth remembering, though, that asthma is not always easy to diagnose. After all, anything that causes congestion of your lungs or airways can lead to problems that look like the symptoms of asthma.
For example, a child may show all the classic symptoms of asthma, but in fact he or she may have inhaled something which is blocking his or her airways (a coin or a button, for example).
In some cases, the symptoms of asthma in an adult may be a sign of heart disease, especially if you get wheezy when you have not ever had an asthma attack in the past. Some forms of heart disease can cause congestion of the lungs, and have symptoms like asthma.
If you suffer from asthma - or you have a child who does - it's worth remembering that it is something you can control yourself to a large degree.
Talk to your doctor and find other information to help you understand what might be causing the asthma, and how to avoid coming into contact with those particular triggers.
Plan ahead - always be prepared, so you are ready to help yourself when you do feel the symptoms coming on. This should help you cut down your risk of more serious attacks, and of needing to go to hospital.
This information was published by Bupa Group's Health Content Team and has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. To the best of their knowledge the information is current and based on reputable sources of medical evidence, however Bupa (Asia) Limited makes no representation or warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of the Content.
The information on this page, and any information on third party websites referred to on this page, is provided as a guide only. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Bupa (Asia) Limited is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of, or reliance on, the information.
Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. Last updated August 2017.
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