Using the four examination techniques of looking, listening and asking questions, smelling and touching, TCM practitioners analyze asthma symptoms and diagnose individuals according to the different TCM classification patterns.
Differentiation between wheezing and panting
Wheezing is characterized by a whistling sound, while panting is when individuals have difficulty breathing. Both of them can be manifestations of asthma and related to acute or chronic disease.
Differentiation between chronic cough and asthma
Asthma or wheezing/panting syndrome is associated with episodes of remission and serious exacerbations, whereas a chronic cough is persistent and does not go away. They can be further differentiated by the characteristics of the cough. With a chronic cough, the coughing sound is usually stronger than the wheezing sound. With asthma, the reverse is true. In general, the wheezing sound is stronger.
Differential classification of disharmony patterns
Asthma belongs to a disharmony pattern featuring both excessive pernicious evils and deficient normal qi. Mainly an excess of pernicious evils, (environmental factors that cause illness) causes exacerbations of asthma. This type of asthma is associated with coarse breathing and a high-pitched wheezing sound. Each breath is long and deep with a rapid expiration time. The pulse is strong, and generally, the body is not in a weak state.
The non-exacerbation period is related to a deficiency of normal qi. Asthma due to deficient normal qi is associated with weak breathing and a low wheezing sound. The breath is short and not smooth. There is usually a long history of asthma, where the individual experiences difficulty with inspiration. This deficient-type of asthma is associated with a sinking and weak pulse or a thin and rapid pulse .
After differentiating between an excessive evil type and a deficient normal qi type, it is also necessary to distinguish the type of phlegm (hot or cold) and identify the disharmonious organs. Details of the corresponding symptoms are listed under the "Symptoms Section".
The major disharmony patterns of asthma are as follows:
1. Cold type asthma
2. Heat type asthma
1. Lung Deficiency
2. Spleen Deficiency
3. Kidney Deficiency