Frequently Asked Questions – Answered
How does a spirometer help in diagnosing asthma?
It’s essential! In establishing a diagnosis of asthma it is important to determine that airflow obstruction is present and that it is at least partially reversible using a bronchodilator. See NIH Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma-Expert Panel Report “Spirometry is an essential objective measure to establish the diagnosis of asthma, because the medical history and physical examination are not reliable means of excluding other diagnoses or assessing lung status. Airflow obstruction is indicated by reduced FEV1 and FEV1% values relative to reference or predicted values. Significant reversibility is indicated by an increase of >12 percent in FEV1 after inhaling a short acting bronchodilator”.
Can a peak flow meter be used to diagnose asthma?
NO. Spirometers are used to diagnose asthma. Peak flow meters are used by patients to monitor themselves once asthma has been diagnosed. See the NIH Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma – Expert Panel Report “Peak flow meters are designed for monitoring, not as diagnostic tools.”
When should a patient be referred to a specialist?
See NIH Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma-Expert Panel Report “Consider referral to an asthma specialist if signs and symptoms are atypical, if there are problems with differential diagnosis, or if additional testing in indicated.”
Which patients should be given a spirometry test?
See NIH Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma-Expert Panel Report – Key Symptoms Indicators For Considering A Diagnosis Of Asthma – “The presence of multiple key indicators increase the probability of asthma, but spirometry is needed to establish a diagnosis.” Download our convenient Spirometry Indication Checklist.
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