Asthma impacts 300 millions of individuals globally. However, new Canadian research indicates that a considerable number of asthma cases may be wrongly diagnosed.
Asthma is a chronic illness impacting the bronchial tubes, which generally allow air to come in and out of the lungs.
This new study, presented in JAMA, indicates that the situation may be over-diagnosed.
Investigators led by Dr. Shawn Aaron, analyzed 613 sufferers selected randomly from 10 Canadian cities in between January 2012 and February 2016.
The investigators enrolled adults who revealed being diagnosed with asthma in the 5 years leading up to the study.
Aaron and team re-examined the individuals to see if they could confirm current asthma. They used a home peak flow meter, spirometry, and serial bronchial challenge tests to observe the symptoms.
Over 33 % of sufferers diagnosed with asthma did not have it
The study identified that a high number of the individuals might have initially obtained a false diagnosis. In addition, the greater part of those whose asthma was not confirmed by the new study stopped taking their drugs and were able to live safely without it for a year.
Researchers ruled out asthma in 203 of the 613 sufferers, which makes up 33.1 percent of the entire sample.
Of these, 12 study individuals had other serious cardiorespiratory illnesses that may have been wrongly diagnosed as asthma.
In addition, 80 % of the misdiagnosed sufferers had been taking asthma medication, and 35 % of them had been doing so daily.
Sufferers who were considered to be asthma-free showed no signs of acute worsening of asthma symptoms and no proof of reversible airflow obstruction or bronchial hyper-responsiveness, even after they ended taking the medication. The individuals were analyzed by a study pulmonologist.
Of the individuals whose asthma was not confirmed, 28 % had no respiratory problem whatsoever, while the greater part had minor issues, like as allergies or heartburn.
Aaron and team followed up on the 203 individuals for 12 months. During this time, they progressively decreased the medication of the patients who were taking it daily over four study visits.
Over 90 % of the misdiagnosed sufferers were able to safely stop taking the medicines for a year.
Commenting on their findings Dr. Shawn Aaron said,
“It is difficult to say how many of these sufferers were actually misdiagnosed with asthma, and how many have asthma that is no longer active. What we do know is that they were all capable to stop taking drugs that they did not need – medication that is costly and can have side effects.”
The authors understand two possible reasons for the failure to confirm the asthma diagnosis in over 33 % of the individuals. One possible cause is the truth that asthma is likely to clear itself up spontaneously – which the authors recommend might have took place in 11.8 % of the cases – while the other cause could simply be an first misdiagnosis.
The study also unveiled that upon the initial diagnosis, over 49 % of the sufferers were not subjected to objective testing procedures, like as serial peak flow testing, bronchial challenge testing, or spirometry.
“Physicians would not diagnose diabetes devoid of checking blood sugar levels, or a broken bone without getting an X-ray,” says Dr. Aaron. “But for some purpose, many physicians are not ordering the spirometry tests that can absolutely diagnose asthma.”
Dr. Aaron goes on to emphasize the require for public health education on how to effectively diagnose asthma.
“We have to educate doctors and the public to get the diagnosis right in the initial place. Sufferers who have problems breathing should ask their physician to order a breathing test – spirometry – to identify if they might have asthma or even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
“In the same way,” he add, “if sufferers think they may have been misdiagnosed with asthma or that they no longer have asthma, they must ask their physician for a spirometry test. Asthma can be fatal, so sufferers should never go off their treatment without discussing to a doctor first.”