Diagnosed With Asthma? It Could Be Something Else…

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Dr. David Beuther Asthma
Dr. David Beuther of National Jewish Health in Denver examines a patient. He says asthma is often misdiagnosed.

Asthma is a common disease, but a new study finds it's also commonly misdiagnosed. An article in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association says a third of adults who are told they have asthma actually don't have the disease.

The findings mirror what doctors at National Jewish Health in Denver have seen for years. They say a misdiagnosis can mean patients are prescribed expensive medications they don't need and have potentially harmful side-effects.

Dr. David Beuther, a pulmonologist at National Jewish, says the disease can usually diagnosed with a test known as spirometry, or if that doesn't work, by inducing an asthma attack in a controlled environment.

Beuther says there are many reasons patients are misdiagnosed. He says primary care physicians have limited amounts of time with patients and can't always do the necessary tests.

Beuther spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.