When you first took your child to be assessed by your local asthma clinic, they may have had a couple of spirometry tests. This breathing test helps diagnose asthma by measuring constriction of the airways.
Once the clinic diagnosed your child's asthma and prescribed medications to help them with day-to-day activities and attack control, then you may have assumed that your child was done with tests. However, the clinic asks you to bring your child back at regular intervals for more spirometry tests.
Why is regular spirometry testing useful?
Ongoing Baseline Monitoring
Your child's original spirometry tests gave the clinic useful baseline measurements. These measurements showed that your child has a breathing problem and gave indications of how much asthma affects their breathing.
However, asthma isn't always a constant condition. Your child's breathing difficulties and asthma attacks can fluctuate over time even if they are on prescribed medications.
If your child has a regular test, say every year, then the clinic can monitor your child's breathing problems and make sure that things are going OK or, at the very least, aren't getting any worse.
For example, the clinic can compare each new spirometry test with the original baseline measurement. If all is going well, each spirometry test will more or less stick to the baseline or, hopefully, even improve on it.
Regular Medication Reviews
Together with other tests, your child's original spirometry test helped the clinic decide how to best control your child's asthma. For example, your child's original tests probably involved using a spirometer both before and after using an asthma medication.
The expectation here is that your child would do better on the test after taking appropriate medicine. This is one of the ways that asthma is diagnosed. The measurements taken during tests also help clinics decide on which medications and dosage levels to prescribe.
Again, regular spirometry tests ensure that your child is taking the right type and amount of medication to control their asthma over time. If your child takes a spirometry test that falls below their original baseline measurements, then the clinic may want to change your child's medications to control their asthma more effectively.
Regular spirometry tests are generally nothing to worry about. If you aren't sure why your child needs to keep coming back for tests, then talk to staff at your asthma clinic. They can explain more about the clinic's testing and review processes.