asthma

Think You Have Asthma? There’s a Good Chance You Don’t

In All Health Watch, Big Pharma, Featured Article, General Health by INH Research0 Comments

It’s a common scenario: A person suffering from a persistent cough or breathing problems goes to the doctor. The doctor observes their symptoms and declares they have asthma.

The patient is put on long-term medication. They are told it will ease their symptoms or stop future flare-ups.

But an alarming new study shows that many of these patients don’t have asthma at all. And the medications they are given don’t do them any good. Most of these misdiagnosed people take needless drugs for years.1

Researchers at the University of Ottawa recruited 613 people diagnosed with asthma in the past five years.2

Over four visits, researchers tested the patients to see if they really had asthma. Using peak flow meters and spirometers, they measured how much air was inhaled and exhaled from the patients’ lungs and how fast. These devices are the gold standard for asthma testing.3

Scientists found that 203 of the 613 patients did not have asthma.


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Asthma Misdiagnosis Is Rampant

How could such rampant misdiagnosis occur? Blame “drive-thru” medicine.

In an effort to see as many patients as possible, hurried doctors often fail to take the time to do proper testing. Instead, they merely observe symptoms, assume it is asthma, prescribe a drug, and send their patient on their way.

Dr. Shawn D. Aaron is a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. He is lead author of the study. Dr. Aaron warned that a cough or a wheeze is not enough for your doctor to know if you have asthma. If they suspect asthma, they need to order a spirometry test.

“Doctors would not diagnose diabetes without checking blood sugar levels, or a broken bone without ordering an X-ray,” said Dr. Aaron. “But for some reason, many doctors are not ordering the spirometry tests that can definitively diagnose asthma.”

Many of the patients diagnosed with asthma actually had another respiratory condition, such as a cold or smoker’s cough.

After identifying people who were wrongly told they had asthma, Dr. Aaron and his colleagues took the study a step further. They took these patients off their asthma medications. Most had been put on steroid-based drugs.

After being taken off the drugs, scientists followed the patients for 15 months. During the follow up, 181 of the 203 patients had no breathing difficulties.

The study recently was published in JAMA.4

Asthma Medication Side Effects

Many asthma patients are prescribed inhaled low-dose steroids. They usually do not have serious side effects. But they can cause oral yeast infections.5

Steroids taken in pill form or injections can have major side effects. They can cause weakness, weight gain, mood and behavior changes, or bone loss.6

Get the Right Asthma Test

If you have been diagnosed with asthma, make sure you get a spirometry test. It is noninvasive and painless. You simply breathe into a machine. The device measures the airflow in and out of your lungs. It takes no more than a few minutes. Your health insurance will pay for it.

It may save you from a lifetime of taking drugs you don’t need.

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References:
1http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315305.php
2https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/well/live/think-you-have-asthma-you-might-not.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fwell&action=click&contentCollection=well&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront
3http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/in-depth/asthma/art-20045198?pg=2
4http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2598265
5http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/in-depth/asthma-medications/art-20045557
6http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-control-with-anti-inflammatory-drugs#1-4




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