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Severe asthma is a life threatening condition that is resistant to standard treatment and requires intensive medication to overcome the obstruction to the air passages. Studies suggest that asthma is often underdiagnosed. In elderly patients, diseases such as bronchitis or emphysema are relatively common. Proper diagnosis in these patients can be further complicated by the difficulty some older people have performing pulmonary function tests. However, it is important to determine the extent of reversibility of the airflow obstruction. In children younger than age 5, the most common cause of asthmatic symptoms is a viral upper respiratory tract infection.
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