Adult onset asthma rates are climbing in Canada but it may be a false number. A study of about 500 adults who were told they had asthma revealed that they in fact did not have the disease.
It appears that a one time visit to the doctors for a cough or wheeze is getting an instant asthma diagnosis. With that diagnosis comes a slew of medicines that may not be needed.
There are medical tests to properly diagnosis asthma, most notably the spirometry. Instead of ordering the tests though doctors are prescribing asthma medicines.
The spirometer measures the patients lung volume and airway flow. Those with true asthma is often narrowed with inflammation.
The study of 496 subjects showed that 150 who had been diagnosed with asthma were not in reality asthmatic after review of the spirometer results. When Dr. Shawn Aaron and his team took those patients off of their medicines and reassessed them they were also found clear of the lung ailment.
On average those who were found not to be asthmatic had been on ‘puffers’ for 15 years.
The Canadian Press reports:
“This is a serious issue because asthma medications are expensive and they can have side-effects,” Aaron said. “Also, an inappropriate diagnosis of asthma may obscure the true cause of a patient’s symptoms.”
It is estimated that 3 million Canadians have asthma, 12 percent of them children. Each year about 20 children and 500 adults die from asthma in Canada. That number is on par with the rest of the world. worldwide asthma has been on the rise for the last 20 years.
“They’re saying things near and dear to my heart and near and dear to the hearts of all practising lung doctors,” Chapman, director of the Asthma Airway Centre at University Health Network, said of the study authors.
“We’re endlessly frustrated that doctors think that they can manage lung disease without measuring lung function.”
The study shows that doctors need to be using more testing to diagnose the disorder. With the proper tests medicine can be prescribed when needed.
If your doctor does not refer you to a lung function laboratory prior to his final assessment perhaps it is time to find one that will.