March 5, 2007
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What Is Not Asthma?

Some respiratory diseases cause similar symptoms to those of asthma. These are as described below:

Chronic bronchitis: It is often difficult to differentiate between chronic bronchitis and asthma in elderly people. Often these two conditions exist together. Inadequately or improperly treated asthma may lead to chronic bronchitis. Similarly, chronic bronchitis may lead to asthma after several years. Cardiac asthma: This is a condition in which breathlessness is caused by a heart disease. It also causes periodic spells of breathlessness, often during sleep and sometimes due to exertion. Cardiac asthma causes difficulty in both inhalation and exhalation. It can also cause severe suffocation. Each episode of cardiac asthma can last for a few minutes to few hours. At the end of the episode, severe fatigue and tiredness is experienced.

Asthma due to hysteria: This condition is often mistaken to be asthma. Detailed history about the nature of symptoms can however help make the correct diagnosis.

Other diseases: Occasionally, some cancers of the chest may cause symptoms similar to those of asthma. This is especially so when the pressure of the cancer growth on the lungs causes wheezing and breathlessness. Sometimes inhalation of organic and inorganic dust may also cause wheezing and breathlessness.