According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), approximately 1/3 of all Canadians being treated for asthma have been misdiagnosed as a result of doctors failing to conduct the proper testing. When visiting a doctor, many patients experiencing asthma-like symptoms (such as wheezing, chronic airway obstruction, and shortness of breath) are prescribed inhalers without a proper spirometry report being done. This report is important because it evaluates how well the lungs are actually functioning as opposed to simply relying on the presence of common symptoms.

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As a result of these asthma misdiagnoses, many Canadians are being prescribed asthma medications and inhalers that they do not need.

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Taking these medications needlessly can cause problems for a healthy patient by suppressing the body’s natural ability to create certain hormones.

Of the Canadians who were misdiagnosed with asthma, one third were completely fine, two percent had serious health conditions like heart disease and pulmonary hypertension, and 65 percent had minor health conditions such as allergies.   

 

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