Around 5.4 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with asthma and some experts suggest that many more people have the condition without having been diagnosed. But how true is this? A recent survey published by health watchdog, NICE has suggested that as many as one million people in the UK have been wrongly diagnosed with the condition.
NICE’s suggestions are based largely on the fact that asthma diagnoses tend not to be definitive in an absolute sense. With the severity of the condition varying considerably from case to case, and with everything from symptoms to triggers being potentially unique to the individual, asthma is amongst illnesses where diagnosis is entrusted more to a doctor’s own feeling and experience than to quantifiable data and testing.
If a doctor is visited by a person exhibiting the signs and symptoms of asthma then there is always a chance that they will diagnose it, even if the condition is not responsible for those symptoms. It seems especially possible if you consider the spread of asthma amongst the UK population with more people than ever before diagnosed with it. Recent statistics show that over a million children in the UK have the condition, and so it seems likely that the spread of the condition is actually going to continue rising.
Although the condition is chronic – meaning that someone with asthma will always have asthma, it is also variable; the need for medication varies from case to case and, according to the team at 121doc.co.uk, using it too often, which is obviously more likely in cases where the condition has been misdiagnosed, can lead to issues, with some asthma medications leading to complex side-effects. NICE stressed in the report that, even where a person feels that they have been wrongly diagnosed, it’s important that they seek medical guidance before stopping using medication; stopping using your medication could lead to very severe consequences if you have been correctly diagnosed.
Moving forward, NICE recommended in their report that there needs to be more clarity and more clinical proving involved in asthma diagnoses. Though it is always important that a patient trusts their doctor, it’s also important that a doctor is able to diagnose based on the largest amount of information that can possibly be collected. The current system, which sees doctors basing their diagnosis on past experience and on information provided by the patient, might not be conclusive enough and, if the figures reported by NICE are correct, may well have lead to in excess of a million wrong patient diagnoses.
Though it is an incredibly manageable condition, asthma can cause serious health implications if it is not correctly managed. If you do have the condition then it’s important that you know, and if you ever exhibit symptoms that may be the result of it then it’s important that you visit your GP. It may not seem like an especially serious illness, but the truth is that without the correct monitoring and management, asthma can become a real problem.