Asthma Misdiagnosis

Asthma Misdiagnosis: Why You Need the Right Diagnosis

Wheezing but not asthma? Misdiagnosis can be risky. Learn why!

Asthma misdiagnosis is more common than you might realize. It’s a situation where someone receives an asthma diagnosis despite not having the condition, or where a true case of asthma is never identified, leading to the wrong treatment or no treatment at all. While sharing some symptoms with other conditions, a missed asthma diagnosis can have serious consequences.

Let’s explore this topic in more detail so you can understand the risks and reasons behind asthma misdiagnosis, and how to ensure you or a loved one gets the correct care. We will also highlight how you can start a medical negligence claim.

Hidden Dangers: Why an Asthma Misdiagnosis Matters

Being prescribed asthma medication when you don’t actually need it can bring unwanted side effects. Some medications can cause anxiety, tremors, or interfere with other medicines you might be taking. Additionally, while most asthma medications are safe for long-term use, there are potential risks to consider.

On the flip side, if you have asthma and it’s misdiagnosed, you’re not getting the treatment you need. This can worsen symptoms over time, leading to:

  • More frequent asthma attacks
  • Potentially life-threatening severe attacks
  • Increased risk of hospitalization
  • Long-term lung damage

Imagine thinking you just need to “deal with” occasional shortness of breath, but you have an underlying condition that could be managed effectively.

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How Asthma Can Be Confused with Other Conditions

How does asthma misdiagnosis happen? Often, it’s because asthma symptoms can overlap with several other conditions, including:

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease): 

COPD usually presents in older adults with a smoking history, but younger people can develop it too. It causes persistent breathlessness, coughing, and mucus production.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD): 

VCD mimics asthma as it causes wheezing and noisy breathing during physical activity. However, it’s related to an issue with the vocal cords restricting airflow.

Heart Conditions: 

Angina (chest pain from lack of blood flow to the heart) can be mistaken for asthma, especially during exertion. Heart failure can also cause breathing difficulties.

Acid Reflux: 

In some cases, acid reflux can irritate the airways and cause symptoms similar to asthma.

Panic Attacks:

Short, intense episodes of anxiety can sometimes present with breathlessness and chest tightness.

Seeking an Accurate Diagnosis: Tests Beyond the Wheeze

“But… I wheeze. Isn’t that enough?” you might ask. While wheezing is a classic asthma symptom, it’s not always present or caused solely by asthma. Doctors utilize various tests to confirm or rule out an asthma diagnosis:

  • Spirometry: This measures how much and how quickly you can breathe out. It’s a cornerstone of asthma diagnosis.
  • Methacholine Challenge Test: A more specialized test, where you inhale a small amount of a substance that triggers airway narrowing if you have asthma.
  • Peak Flow Meter: This device measures how fast you can push air out and can be used at home to track symptoms.
  • Other Tests: Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest chest X-rays, blood tests, or tests to check for heart conditions or acid reflux.

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Common Reasons for Asthma Misdiagnosis

Sometimes, asthma misdiagnosis happens due to:

Not Conducting Objective Tests: 

A diagnosis made solely on symptoms leaves room for error. Using tests like spirometry is crucial.

Patient Assumptions: 

Someone with a cough or who gets short of breath during exercise might assume it’s asthma and not seek further testing.

Coexisting Conditions: 

Asthma can exist alongside other health conditions, complicating the diagnostic process.

Protecting Yourself: Getting the Right Care

If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, but something feels off, don’t be afraid to express your concerns:

  • Ask Questions: Ask your doctor why they suspect asthma and what tests they recommend to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Advocate for Testing: If you haven’t had objective tests like spirometry, request them.
  • Second Opinions: Consider getting a second opinion from a respiratory specialist if you’re unsure.

Remember, you are your own best health advocate! Open communication with your doctor is key.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim with National Claims

If you suspect that your asthma misdiagnosis, or the delayed diagnosis of your asthma, stems from medical negligence, National Claims is here to help. We understand the significant impact that medical errors can have on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Our team can work with you to determine if the standard of care you received fell below acceptable levels and resulted in preventable harm.

Free Consultation

To begin, we offer a free consultation to explore the circumstances surrounding your asthma diagnosis. We’ll carefully review your medical records, listen to your concerns, and provide an initial assessment of whether negligence may have occurred. This informed assessment will be crucial in deciding whether to pursue a medical negligence claim.

*No Win, No Fee

At National Claims, financial constraints shouldn’t stand in the way of getting justice. With our “No Win, No Fee” structure, you don’t pay upfront legal fees. If we’re successful in your case, then our fees will be based on a percentage of your compensation. This approach allows you to seek justice without immediate financial burdens.


Asthma misdiagnosis reminds us that not every wheeze or breathless episode means asthma. Being aware of the possibility of a misdiagnosis can help you actively participate in your own healthcare.

If you have doubts about a diagnosis, whether it’s asthma or another condition, don’t hesitate to ask questions and advocate for further testing. Accurate diagnosis is the first step towards effective treatment and a better quality of life, ensuring you get the right care for your specific needs.

Contact us today to speak to one of our claims specialists who will be able to help you get started on your claim.

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