Diagnosing Severe Asthma

Severe asthma is only diagnosed by a doctor after medical investigations and testing.

It is important severe asthma is thoroughly investigated by a specialist and other diagnoses are ruled out. Your doctor can also help ensure you are getting the best outcome from your current treatments.

This will involve checking you are taking your asthma medications as prescribed using an effective inhaler technique, and other conditions are well managed, to minimise the impact on your asthma.

Your doctor may refer you to a respiratory specialist who will undertake a number of tests to confirm you have severe asthma and not another condition with similar symptoms. At your appointment with the specialist you may be asked a lot of questions, some of which you may have answered before. It is important that you answer all questions thoroughly so your specialist can understand your unique experiences.

You should tell the doctor everything, including if you’re struggling to take your medication as prescribed, or if you’re experiencing side effects from your current treatment. Your doctor needs to know this information, so they can determine the best treatment for you.

There is no single test to diagnose severe asthma. Everyone with asthma is different, so the tests may vary depending on your individual asthma symptoms, medical history and any other conditions that your doctor needs to assess or rule out.

It may take time to diagnose severe asthma and find the right combination of medication to manage your symptoms and flare-ups.

Learn more about diagnosis and testing for asthma, such as spirometry and peak flow.

Most of these tests will be performed at a respiratory specialist centre or lung function testing laboratory.