What is the diagnosis of Dyspnea?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 06, 2013

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A diagnosis of the cause of the patient's dyspnea and coughing is helpful in planning treatment. Diagnostic tests and procedures may include the following:

Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Functional assessment: An exam to check for how the dyspnea affects the patient's ability to perform activities of daily living.

Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.

CT scan: A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.


Complete blood count: A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:

  • The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
  • The portion of the blood sample made of red blood cells.

Oxygen saturation test: A procedure to determine the amount of oxygen being carried by the red blood cells. A lower than normal amount of oxygen may be a sign of lung disease or other medical conditions. One method uses a device clipped to the finger. The device senses the amount of oxygen in the blood flowing through the finger. Another method uses a sample of blood drawn from an artery, usually in the wrist, and tested for the amount of oxygen.


Maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) test: The MIP is the highest pressure that can be generated while breathing in. The MIP test measures this pressure and the strength of the muscles used to breathe. The patient breathes through a device called a manometer, which measures the pressure and sends the information to a computer.


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