A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that doctors, missing the signs of more serious problems, tend to over diagnose Asthma in as much as 30% of Canadian adults, an inappropriate diagnosis that can obscure the real cause behind a patient’s symptoms. Several respiratory conditions mimic the symptoms of asthma, such as, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema to be found in smokers, both current and former.
Talking to CTV news, Dr. Shawn Aaron, a senior scientist at Ottawa Health Research Institute and Head of Respiratory Medicine at Ottawa Hospital says, the study has proven to be a myth buster, as researchers using clinical diagnostic guidelines retested nearly 500-Canadians diagnosed as having asthma, only to find they were not asthmatic.
Thirty percent of these patients did not have asthma, while two-thirds experienced no adverse health effects when they stopped taking asthma medications. A serious issue, it is not to be taken lightly, as asthma medications are not only expensive, there could be side effects from taking them. While inhaled corticosteroids are generally considered safe drugs, higher rates of osteoporosis, glaucoma and cataracts have been seen in patients after long-term use.
According to current clinical guidelines, doctors should use a spirometer to measure lung volume and airway flow to test for asthma, but it appears most family physicians base their diagnosis for asthma on their patients’ reported symptoms.
Urging doctors to conduct more spirometer tests, Dr. Mark Greenwald, spokesperson for The Asthma Society of Canada says, studies by his association find less than 50% of bonafide asthmatics have undergone spirometry tests.
A doubling of asthma rates in the last 20-years prompted the study, however, Dr. Aaron, lead author of the study conducted across 8-locations, urges people not to stop medication, unless and until they have consulted their doctor.
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