Unifying Concepts

Criteria for the Diagnosis of Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that is characterized by variable narrowing of the airways and symptoms of intermittent dyspnea, wheezing, and nighttime or early-morning coughing.

Criteria for the Diagnosis of Asthma
Presence of episodic symptoms of airflow obstruction or airway hyperresponsiveness
Objective assessment consisting of one of the following:

  1. Airflow obstruction that is at least partially reversible with the use of an inhaled short-acting beta 2-agonist, as shown by one of three variables
    1. An increase in FEV1 of >/=12% from baseline
    2. An increase in predicted FEV1 of >/=10 percentage points from baseline
    3. An increase in PEF of >/=20% (or 60 liters/min) from baseline
  2. Diurnal variation in PEF (measured twice daily) of more than 10%

* FEV1 denotes forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and PEF peak expiratory flow.



  1. Bel EH. Clinical Practice. Mild asthma. N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 8;369(6):549-57. [Medline]
  2. Mintz M. Asthma update: part I. Diagnosis, monitoring, and prevention of disease progression. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70:893-898. [Medline]


Created Aug 22, 2013.

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