Asthma is an increasingly common diagnosis in America; according to statistics there are over 26 million people suffering from asthma, but the latest analysis shows these patients may be misdiagnosed or have other medical conditions they are not aware of. Tod Olin , MD, MSCS , a pediatric pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, explained that it is very common and logical for general practitioners to diagnose and treat any respiratory problem as asthma particularly in children. He also mentioned that there are also other problems besides asthma that we should think especially when treatment fails .
According to Dr. Olin, asthma is used as an ‘umbrella’ term to describe wide a range of respiratory diseases. He said that there are many conditions that mimic asthma and that we need to make sure that we have the correct diagnosis before starting treatment. Among medical conditions that mimic asthma and which must be taken into account when one begins a treatment, there is acid reflux, allergies and heart problems.
Many of the patients with asthma, after trying several therapies that fail, are sent to National Jewish Health, one of the most popular respiratory hospital in the nation. But a recent analysis revealed some interesting findings. It was shown that one in four patients sent to National Jewish Health in the period 2005-2008 did not have asthma at all, and that about 70 % of them had other conditions besides asthma, conditions that were not properly treated. After being re-evaluated by specialists at National Jewish Health, patients were diagnosed more accurately with respiratory diseases and were prescribed appropriate therapy. In this way specialists were able to decrease by half the number of hospitalizations and the symptoms experienced by children during sport.
Dr Olin pointed out that this discovery is really eye-opening. “We spend a lot of time and resources treating people for asthma in this country, and for some, it’s just the wrong diagnosis,” he pointed out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States spend more than $ 50 billion dollars each year for asthma patients. Dr. Olin said that if patients could be diagnosed and treated properly, this would make a big difference both in terms of costs and quality of life of patients. Dr Olin advises patients who take drugs for asthma and still have symptoms more than twice a week or have been hospitalized for respiratory problems, to be re- evaluated by a specialist.