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Misdiagnosis of Asthma in Adults

Alternative diagnoses list for Asthma in Adults:

For a diagnosis of Asthma in Adults, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Asthma in Adults:

Rare Types of Asthma in Adults:

Asthma in Adults: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Asthma in Adults: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Common Misdiagnoses and Asthma in Adults

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common symptoms are anal itch (or vaginal itch), which are obvious in severe cases, milder conditions may fail to be noticed in children. In particular, it may interfere with the child's good night's sleep. Threadworm is a condition to consider in children with symptoms such as bedwetting (enuresis), difficulty sleeping, irritability, or other sleeping symptoms. Visual inspection of the region can often see the threadworms, at night when they are active, but they can also be missed this way, and multiple inspections can be warranted if worms are suspected. See the introduction to threadworm.

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the most common misdiagnosed is for children with mesenteric adenitis to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Fortunately, thus misdiagnosis is usually less serious than the reverse failure to diagnose appendicitis.

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply be too small to accurately test a child's blood pressure. This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a child with hypertension. The problem even has a name unofficially: "small cuff syndrome". See misdiagnosis of hypertension.

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children. See misdiagnosis of migraine or introduction to migraine.

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of the chronic lung diseases with diagnostic difficulties include asthma (perhaps surprisingly), COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, mesothelioma, smoker's cough, AIDS-related respiratory conditions (see AIDS), chronic pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases. Rare possibilities include diseases like psittacosis (bird-related lung infection). See other types of chronic lung diseases.

Asthma in Adults: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Failure To Diagnose Asthma in Adults

Failure to diagnose Asthma in Adults may be associated with the following:

  • Untreated asthma can cause permanent damage to the airways

Notes On Hidden Causes Of Asthma in Adults

The following may be hidden causes of Asthma in Adults:

  • Adult asthma can be a reoccurrence of childhood asthma
  • Asthma patients need to make their doctor aware of any other medications they are taking in order to rule out a possible trigger to the asthma but also to avoid drug interactions
  • Certain heart disease and high blood pressure medications (e.g. ACE inhibitors and beta-adrenergic blockers) can cause asthma or exacerbate symptoms
  • Sedative drugs such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills can exacerbate asthma symptoms
  • Asthma can be precipitated by respiratory tract infections in some cases
  • Various types of asthma can exist together - e.g. virus-induced asthma can occur with exercise-induced or seasonal asthma.
  • The presenting asthma symptoms may vary depending on the cause and type of asthma. For example, although wheezing is commonly associated with asthma, its absence does not necessarily exclude the diagnosis of asthma. Coughing after exertion may be a sign of asthma even though there may be no wheezing
  • Conditions which may be hidden causes of asthma include: mold allergy, whooping cough, bronchiolitis, dust, cigarette smoke, food allergy, pollen, aspirin allergy, salicylate sensitivity and very cold air
  • In rare cases stress or emotions such as extreme laughing or crying can trigger an asthmatic episode
  • Air pollution, certain medications, chemical fumes or smoke from bushfires may also trigger asthmatic symptoms
  • Research indicates that high levels of exposure to chlorine pools (such as in competitive swimmers) may increase the risk of asthma. The ammonia and urea from sweat or urine combines with the chlorine gas in pools to produced nitrogen tri-chloride which can cause airway irritation. However, overall, swimming appears to benefit asthma sufferers
  • Aspirin is a relatively common trigger for an asthma attack in adult asthmatic patients. Aspirin-induced asthma occurs 1-3 hours of having aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Early symptoms include rhinitis, sneezing, nasal obstruction and watery nasal discharge. The condition may range in severity and severe cases can be life-threatening. The condition usually starts to develop at around 30 years of age and is often preceded by a history of rhinitis, loss of sense of smell and persistent nasal polyps. Generally, asthma develops about two years after the start of the rhinitis and aspirin intolerance starts about four years after that
  • Other names for Aspirin-induced asthma are:
  • Francis' Triad
  • Samter's Triad
  • Aspirin Triad
  • AIA
  • Aspirin-sensitive asthma
  • Aspirin-intolerant asthma
  • NSAID-induced rhinitis and asthma
  • Common triggering factors involved in occupational asthma include: chemical dust, polyurethane paints, insulation, foam mattresses, upholstery, packaging materials, vapors from plasticizers, isocyanates, phthalic anhydride, trimellitic anhydride, flour dust, cereal dust, grain dust, coffee dust, tea dust and papain dust
  • Industries which tend to involve a higher risk of occupational asthma includes: animal handlers, grooms, jockeys, veterinarians, shepherds, kennel workers, manufacturing operators (chromium, nickel sulfate, platinum and soldering fumes), processing operators, bakers, millers, food processors, cotton processors and textile industry workers
  • Smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke can increase the risk of asthma complications such as emphysema and lung cancer
  • Smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke can also exacerbate asthma symptoms
  • Asthma can be inherited
  • Research indicates that some people may be genetically predisposed to the risk of asthma

Notes On Wrong Diagnosis Of Asthma in Adults

Wrong diagnosis of Asthma in Adults may be associated with the following:

  • Though wheezing is commonly associated with asthma, its absence does not necessarily exclude the diagnosis of asthma. Coughing after exertion may be a sign of asthma even though there may be no wheezing
  • Elderly asthmatics frequently misdiagnosed as having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Obese people with breathing problems are sometimes misdiagnosed as having asthma
  • Breathing problems due to heart disease or abnormalities may be misdiagnosed as asthma
  • Studies indicate that the elderly asthma sufferers may be underdiagnosed whereas children may be overdiagnosed
  • Vocal cord dysfunction may be misdiagnosed as asthma. Vocal cord dysfunction causes vocal cord spasms which causes the airway to close during inhalation. Spirometry is a test that can be used to differentiate between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma

Other Notes On Misdiagnosis Of Asthma in Adults

  • Research indicates a link between childhood obesity and adult-onset asthma in women - males do not face the same risk.
  • Often childhood asthma can resolve itself with age but in some cases it may reoccur again during adulthood
  • Effective asthma treatment relies on correct diagnosis, control of triggering factors and compliance with medication use if required. Regular exercise can also benefit asthmatics
  • Asthma patterns can be described using:
  • A) frequency of symptoms - infrequent, frequent, episodic, persistent.
  • B)season - perennial or seasonal
  • Further classifying factors:
  • Severity - mild, moderate, severe, brittle, difficult
  • Response to treatment - steroid-sensitive, steroid-resistant
  • Despite all this, patterns and subtypes can overlap in a patient
  • Insects such as cockroaches can exacerbate asthma
  • Research indicates that adult onset asthma may increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke in women - men don't appear to face the same risk.
  • Asthma can run in families so looking at family medical histories may assist diagnosis
  • Most adult asthma patients also have some type of allergy such as eczema, rhinitis or hay fever
  • Asthma patients often have a history of frequent chest infections
  • Complications:
  • Spontaneous pneumothorax
  • Pneumomediastinum
  • Emphysema
  • Pneumopericardium
  • Pneumorrhachis

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Asthma in Adults or confirming a diagnosis of Asthma in Adults, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Asthma in Adults may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Asthma in Adults. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.


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