One third of asthmatics may not have the condition study suggests

first_img“But for some reason many doctors are not ordering the spirometry tests that can definitely diagnose asthma.”Retired nurse Becky Hollingsworth was diagnosed with asthma two years ago. While participating in this study she learnt that her shortness of breath was actually a temporary breathing problem left over from a bout of pneumonia.”Even if it’s falsely diagnosed, you still have to deal with the consequences of having a chronic illness,” said the 72-year-old grandmother from Ottawa.“You have to take medication and if you want to take a trip somewhere the insurance can be higher.”Patients who have difficulty breathing are advised to ask their doctor to order a breathing test (spirometry) to determine if they might have asthma or even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Patients think they may have been misdiagnosed with asthma or that they no longer have asthma, should also ask their doctor for a spirometry test, the researchers said, but warned people not to come off medication without seeking medical advice.  The research was publishing the Journal of the American Association. Even if it’s falsely diagnosed, you still have to deal with the consequences of having a chronic illnessBecky Hollingsworth, 72 There are around 4.3 million adults with asthma in Britain, around one in 12 adults, which is the same prevalence rate as in Canada. If the same rates of remission and misdiagnosis were seen in the UK, it would mean that 1.4 million people did not actually have the condition.A similar study carried out in the Netherlands last year also suggested that more than half of children are misdiagnosed with asthma. Both Canada and the Netherlands have healthcare systems comparable to the UK and researchers warned that there is a general problem in Western countries of doctors failing to properly assess youngsters in surgeries.The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice) is so concerned it is drawing up new guidelines advising doctors to use more clinical tests to back up their judgement and avoid the danger of wrongly labelling someone as asthmatic.Over-treatment is a concern because some of the drugs used to manage asthma can have significant side-effects including muscle cramps, throat infections, tremors, vomiting and nausea. Children with asthma often avoid exercise, which can lead to weight problems. However charities warned that underdiagnosis was also a problem.Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead for Asthma UK: “Some people may not be receiving the correct diagnosis for asthma or may be misdiagnosed.“However, it does not address the equally worrying problem of underdiagnosis and poor control of asthma in the wider population.“Asthma is a chronic condition with many complex causes which is why diagnosis may be difficult. Asthma is also a highly variable condition that can change throughout someone’s life or even week by week, meaning treatment also needs to change over time.“While some people may experience a remission in their asthma, symptoms may reoccur later and people should remain vigilant and aware of any new symptoms that may indicate a flare-up of asthma.”The new study found that doctors often did not order the tests needed to confirm an asthma diagnosis. Instead, in nearly half of cases they based their diagnosis solely on the patient’s symptoms and their own observations, claims that have also been made in the UK.”Doctors wouldn’t diagnose diabetes without checking blood-sugar levels, or a broken bone without ordering an X-ray,” added Dr Aaron. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. One third of people with asthma may not actually have the condition either because it has got better, or they were wrongly diagnosed in the first place, a new study suggests.Researchers selected more than 700 adults at random who had been diagnosed with asthma in the last five years and checked them again.They found 33 per cent of people did not have the condition, and nine in 10 of those were able to stop their medication completely. Most had minor conditions like allergies or heartburn, and 28 per cent had nothing wrong with them at all.”It’s impossible to say how many of these patients were originally misdiagnosed with asthma, and how many have asthma that is no longer active,” said lead author of the study Prof Shawn Aaron, senior scientist and respirologist at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, Canada.”What we do know is that they were all able to stop taking medication that they didn’t need – medication that is expensive and can have side-effects.” Asthma is also a highly variable condition that can change throughout someone’s life or even week by week, meaning treatment also needs to change over timeDr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead for Asthma UKlast_img

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