The number of children getting diagnosed with asthma is increasing day by day in the United Kingdom and most of these children may not actually have the asthma symptoms, said a new study.
The study published in the British Journal of General Practice
found that more than one million children have been diagnosed with asthma in Britain, wherein about half a million children who have been diagnosed with asthma may not actually have the condition.
‘Half a million asthmatic children show no clinical signs and have probably been misdiagnosed, posing a risk of treatment side effects in the UK.’
Researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht looked at the medical records of 652 youngsters in the Netherlands diagnosed with asthma and found that in 53% of children were over-diagnosed.
The study also highlights that doctors are not using proper diagnosis techniques as recommended by the international standards. They confirm the presence of asthma by looking at history of lung problems rather than conducting clinical tests.
The best method for diagnosis of asthma is spirometry, a device that measures lung function and breathing. Researchers found that the device was used only in 16 percent of the cases.
Dr. Ingrid Looijmans-van den Akker, said, "Over-diagnosis of asthma was found in more than half of the children, leading to unnecessary treatment, disease burden, and impact on their quality of life."
Over-diagnosis and over-treatment can lead to side effects such as muscle cramps, throat infections, tremors, vomiting and nausea.
Therefore, National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has decided to work on new guidelines for asthma diagnosis, recommending clinical tests.
Professor Mark Baker, director of clinical practice at NICE, said, "Nice is currently developing a guideline to provide advice for primary, secondary and community care healthcare professionals on the most suitable tests for accurately diagnosing asthma and how to help people monitor and control their symptoms."
"As part of this work, NICE is inviting GP practices to take part in a project to check the feasibility of some diagnostic tests that NICE proposes to recommend."