Half of All Asthma Patients May Have Been Misdiagnosed
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition caused by inflammation and accumulation of mucus in the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. This leads to a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, people experience shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, and a cough. A Canadian study found that a third of people diagnosed with asthma don’t actually have the condition. A Dutch study found that half of all children with asthma using the same screening methods worldwide had been misdiagnosed. These misdiagnosed patients often take medication unnecessarily to manage a disease they don’t have.
Common lung infections like pneumonia and bronchiolitis share many features with asthma. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that make breathing difficult and have similar symptoms to asthma. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common COPDs and are most likely to occur in smokers. Asthma may also be mistaken for diseases that cause scarring in the lungs or airways, such as cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. Panic attacks that cause hyperventilation and chest pain may also be mistaken for asthma attacks.