Diagnosing asthma can be difficult. Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often similar to those of other conditions, including emphysema, early congestive heart failure or vocal cord problems. In children, it can be hard to differentiate asthma from wheezy bronchitis, pneumonia or reactive airway disease.
In order to rule out other possible conditions, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your signs and symptoms and about any other health problems. You may also be given lung (pulmonary) function tests to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe.