Symptoms, testing. Asthma is a respiratory condition diagnosed by compatible symptoms in a person who demonstrates airway obstruction on a breathing test that improves after a medication to open airways (albuterol). If symptoms are suggestive (chronic cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, typically worse at night) and criteria are met on a breathing test, then asthma can be definitively diagnosed.
Different ways. Asthma is characterized by recurrent bronchospasm characterized by wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. If you are examined by a doctor during an exacerbation and wheezing is diagnosed, and this occurs repeatedly, then the diagnosis can be made. Pulmonary function testing can also help with the diagnosis if necessary.Your physical exam and pfts will be normal between episodes.