Medical information and tests will provide more information to help narrow down possible causes for your symptoms.

Your Medical History

Your healthcare provider will need to know a lot about your past and present health as well as the health of your immediate family. Your immediate family includes blood relatives such as your grandparents, mother, father, sister(s), and brother(s). Of special interest will be a history of allergies, eczema, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or asthma, how bad the problems are (for example, how often they occur, is anyone taking medicine for the problem?), and factors that may cause the problems.

Your Physical Exam for Asthma

Your doctor will give you a physical exam to look, listen, and feel for the following signs related to asthma:

  • how your chest looks. In children with severe asthma, you may notice hunched shoulders and expanded chest muscles from the extra effort they need to breathe; adults may notice the muscles between your ribs contracting, or pulling inward, during an asthma flare-up
  • breathing sounds
  • increased mucus and swelling in your nose
  • signs of allergic skin problems, such as eczema
  • nasal crease, which is a small line across the middle of your nose caused by frequently pushing up on the tip of the nose to relieve the itching and runny nose common to allergies
  • dark circles around your eyes due to allergies

There may be nothing noticeable to detect if your airways are clear during your doctor visit. That's why it is so important to keep a record of your symptoms to share with your doctor.

Written by Karen Serrano, MD

Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008