Is asthma being misdiagnosed in too many cases?
An Auckland asthma specialist says too many people are being diagnosed with asthma and medicated for it - when it might not actually be the problem. Middlemore Hospital's Jeff Garrett says bronchitis or emphysema - known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD - is frequently identified as asthma. He says about 70 percent of patients with COPD are currently on inhaled steroids when only about 20 percent should be, and that the treatment can hinder their recovery. But Jeff Garrett says while specialists have access to high tech tests which can screen a patient's sputum to see if the disease is a chronic pulmonary disease - or asthma - a cheap and easy blood test can tell the difference.