Many Diagnosed Asthmatics May Not Have Asthma At All

Feb 12, 2009 by

Many Diagnosed Asthmatics May Not Have Asthma At All

Have you been diagnosed with asthma? Modern medicine is a lot about diagnoses and intervention, mainly in the form of drug medications.

However, have you ever wondered about the accuracy of diagnostic procedures? I’m sure you have. And this Canadian study gives us a sneek peek into the world of asthma diagnosis and treatment.

Significant Proportion of Asthmatics May Have Been Over-Diagnosed

by Reuben Chow

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with asthma? If so, there is actually a good chance that you have been misdiagnosed, according to recent research conducted in Canada. In the past two decades, asthma rates have almost doubled. However, the said study found that asthma may be over-diagnosed by up to 30% among adults in the country.

Over-diagnosis of Asthma

Using accepted clinical diagnostic guidelines, 500 Canadians who had been diagnosed with the condition were re-tested for asthma. These guidelines include the recommendation that doctors test for the disease by measuring lung volume and airway flow using a spirometer.

The study team, comprising researchers from the Ottawa Health Research Institute as well as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), found that 30% of the persons did not seem to have asthma, and two-thirds could stop taking their asthma medications without actually having adverse effects to their health.

“The myth-busting part of this study may be that there are a lot of Canadians who are labeled as asthmatics who believe they have the disease, but they may not have it,” said Dr Shawn Aaron, a senior scientist at Ottawa Health Research Institute, head of respiratory medicine at Ottawa Hospital, and leader of the study.

And there are three main problems with this – drugs are costly, patients are unnecessarily subjected to potential adverse effects of the medications, and the underlying disease condition remains undiagnosed and therefore untreated. “This is a serious issue because asthma medications are expensive and they can have side effects. Also, an inappropriate diagnosis of asthma may obscure the true cause of a patient’s symptoms,” said Dr Aaron.

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