How Often is Asthma Misdiagnosed?

A study from Canada suggests that adults are misdiagnosed one-third of the time with the chronic disorder of asthma. They looked at data from 600 individuals who were diagnosed with the lung disorder within the past five years. With close monitoring, they specifically looked at participants who were taken off meds slowly to see how well their lungs did without them over a 13 to 14 month period.

new research on Asthma

One Third Misdiagnosed?

Based on this evaluation, 200 patients or a third were ruled out to have no asthma in the first place. The researchers even followed up year after on these 200 patients to see if they did well, and what they found was their health was still in good standing with no symptoms of the chronic lung disease. The patient had to do several test for the study. They had to do a breathing test done at the home which measured their expiratory flow. Another test was administered at the clinic where they did a bronchial test where they had to inhale a substance. This caused their lungs to be stimulated to help re-create mild-asthma in order to see how well their airway reacted.

Difficulty in Diagnosing

According to the researchers this clearly is a mistaken misdiagnosis from the start and some of them had other health issues not related to asthma. What it tells us is that it is very difficult to diagnose a patient with asthma because the triggers are different from each individual. The general symptoms are usually coughing, pains of the chest, wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

Other Serious Health Concerns Overlooked?

From the 200 patients who were misdiagnosed, 2% of them had other serious health issues not related to anything asthma such as pulmonary disease. The current issue is overlooking or not treating the other health concerns.

Flaws of the Study?

The study does have its flaws because the research only looked at the patients for just over a year. This isn’t long enough yet to see if there is a clear conclusion as there is a possibility that they may have asthma symptoms much later. Also the study only looked at individual who had the milder form of asthma. It excluded patients with severe asthma out of the study.


The message from the researchers is that the misdiagnosis can lead to not treating the real disease that the patient may have because it is overlooked. Considering that the side effects of medication for asthma is pretty much considered minimal but there is no reason to take it if you do not have the condition in the first place.