A third of adults who are diagnosed with asthma may not actually have the respiratory condition, according to a new study. Health experts believe that large numbers of people do not have the condition when they are diagnosed while others recover so they no longer have asthma.
Study authors say that doctors diagnose their patients with asthma without carrying out proper tests. Professor Shawn Aaron said that while GPs would not diagnose diabetes without blood sugar tests or a broken bone without X rays, they often diagnosed asthma without carrying out the right tests. He said that doctors ought to carry out spirometry tests which would diagnose asthma.
The research was carried out by a team in Canada, who looked at 613 patients diagnosed with asthma over the last five years. The study discovered that a third of patients told they had asthma actually had not sign of the condition. However, out of those who did not actually have the condition, eight out of ten had been taking medication. Just over a third of them had taken asthma medication every day.
Following the research, the vast majority of those found to have no asthma were able to stop taking their medication and have been off the treatment for a year, while being monitored. The research was led by the University of Ottowa. It adds to a growing body of research which suggests that asthma is misdiagnosed.
In Britain alone, there are an estimated 5.4m people receiving treatment after being diagnosed with asthma. That is one in every dozen adults, and one in every 11 children in the country. However, the NHS watchdog Nice said a year ago that a third of adults with asthma had no clinical signs of the condition. Leading health experts warned last year that doctors were handing out inhalers as if they were fashion accessories.