Bronchial challenge test

A lung function test for asthma

This straightforward assessment measures lung sensitivity to diagnose asthma

What is a bronchial challenge test?

Asthma is a common condition that causes lung inflammation and makes it difficult to breathe. This inflammation is sometimes caused by allergies or overly sensitive airways. A bronchial challenge test ‘challenges’ your airways by asking you to inhale doses of a powder and then measures your lungs' reaction.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The test involves doing a baseline spirometry — a simple test that measures how much air you can exhale after taking a very deep breath. You'll do this by breathing into a mouthpiece attached to a specialised device. Next, you'll breathe in several doses of a powder through an inhaler. The powder is a sugar-based substance that causes a mild reaction if you have sensitive airways. After each dose, your respiratory physiologist will repeat the spirometry to assess for any changes. The whole test takes around an hour.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the test to you and answer any questions you may have. They'll let you know if there is anything specific you need to do to prepare. This may include avoiding certain medications, caffeine, smoking or vigorous exercise before your test.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    Your consultant will review the results of the test with you and let you know if any other assessments are needed. If your test confirms a diagnosis of asthma, your consultant will talk to you about the best treatment options to help you manage your condition.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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