An asthma control test involves questions relating to daytime and nighttime asthma symptoms. This test helps determine if a person is controlling their asthma well.
The asthma control test helps someone identify how their symptoms interfere with their day-to-day life. The test is also useful to help healthcare professionals determine if someone’s asthma symptoms need better control.
If people do not have sufficient control over their asthma in the long term, it can increase the risk of asthma attacks and lead to other health issues, such as lung infections, which can cause several symptoms.
The article looks at how the control test works, the results, and when to consult a doctor. It also provides a brief overview of asthma’s symptoms, triggers, treatments, and overall outlook.
According to the American Thoracic Society, the standard asthma control test consists of five questions. The questions involve a 4-week recall of symptoms and how they affect a person’s daily functioning.
Frequent symptoms and difficulties controlling their condition may interfere with a person’s quality of life.
An asthma control test is available for people 12 and older.
Although there may be slight variations to the wording of the test, questions consider the same categories, and people need to grade themselves from 1 to 5, according to the numbered list below following each question.
In the past 4 weeks, how much of the time did your asthma keep you from getting as much done at work, school, or at home?
- All of the time.
- Most of the time.
- Some of the time.
- A little of the time.
- None of the time.
During the past 4 weeks, how often have you had shortness of breath?
- More than once a day.
- Once a day.
- Three to six times a week.
- Once or twice a week.
- Not at all.
During the past 4 weeks, how often did your asthma symptoms (wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or pain) wake you up at night or earlier than usual in the morning?
- Four or more nights per week.
- Two to three nights a week.
- Once a week.
- Once or twice a week.
- Not at all.
During the past 4 weeks, how often have you used your rescue inhaler or nebulizer medication (such as albuterol)?
- Three or more times per day.
- One to two times per day.
- Two to three times per week.
- Once a week or less.
- Not at all.
How would you rate your asthma control during the past 4 weeks?
- Not controlled at all.
- Poorly controlled.
- Somewhat controlled
- Completely controlled.
Childhood asthma control test
A similar test is also available for children 4– 11 years of age. This test involves asking the child four questions about their asthma:
- at the time of the test
- when playing sports or exercising
- the cause of their cough
- at night
A parent or caregiver will score the answers 0–3 and also answer an additional four questions linked to their child’s asthma over the last 4 weeks.
With the asthma control test, individuals answer each question. The answer has a corresponding numeric value of 1–5, and at the end of the test, users add up the number for each answer for their total score. The total score may range from 5 to 25. This score distinguishes between well-controlled asthma and difficulty controlling it.
The lower the score, the more a person lacks control of their condition. For example, someone does not have their asthma under control if they score 5 or 6. An individual has better control of their asthma if they score 20 or higher.
The American Lung Association recommends that everyone with asthma consult their doctor at least once a year. They should speak with their doctor more often if they experience frequent symptoms of the condition.
They also recommend sharing the results of an asthma control test with a healthcare professional. It is especially important to speak with a doctor as soon as possible if the results indicate that a person’s does not have sufficient control over their asthma.
Sharing the results of an asthma control test helps doctors identify parts of the asthma treatment plan that may need adjusting. They may also recommend new asthma medications or treatment plans.
Asthma affects the airways and lungs. It leads to various symptoms that interfere with breathing, such as
- shortness and breath
- chest tightness
In the United States, about
Individuals with asthma may also have various specific triggers. Common triggers include:
- allergens, such as pollen, weeds, animal dander, and dust mites
- cold air
Currently, there is no cure for asthma, but effective treatments are available. Learning to identify and decrease asthma triggers is part of a person’s treatment plan.
Often, treatments include medication to prevent flare-ups, such as inhaled steroids or long-acting bronchodilators. Treatment also includes fast-acting medications to treat sudden symptoms.
The outlook for someone with asthma varies depending on the control of their symptoms. For people with well-controlled asthma, flare-ups may only occur occasionally and not interfere with daily life.
However, for individuals with difficulty controlling asthma, it may cause problems such as:
- feeling tired all the time
- absence from or difficulties with work or school
- stress, anxiety, or depression
- disruption of work or leisure
- lung infections such as pneumonia
- delays in growth or puberty in children
There is also a risk of severe asthma attacks, which could be life threatening if a person does not seek medical attention.
The asthma control test helps improve an individual’s quality and life and outlook, as treatment adjustments can help symptoms in the short and long term.
An asthma control test involves a questionnaire that people answer regarding the frequency of asthma symptoms over 4 weeks. Each answer has a numerical value. The individual adds their score to determine their level of asthma symptom control.
Sharing the results with a healthcare professional allows doctors to make necessary changes to treatment plans to better manage their asthma.