Asthma - Diagnosis - Differential Diagnosis

Differential Diagnosis

Other conditions may cause symptoms similar to those of asthma and a physician would conduct differential diagnoses to determine if any of the following could be causes of symptoms:

  • Infants and Children
    • Upper airway diseases
      • Allergic rhinitis and allergic sinusitis
    • Obstructions involving large airways
      • Foreign body in trachea or bronchus
      • Vocal cord dysfunction
      • Vascular rings or laryngeal webs
      • Laryngotracheomalacia, tracheal stenosis, or bronchostenosis
      • Enlarged lymph nodes or tumor
    • Obstructions involving small airways
      • Viral bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
      • Cystic fibrosis
      • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
      • Heart disease
    • Other causes
      • Recurrent cough not due to asthma
      • Aspiration from swallowing mechanism dysfunction or gastroesophageal reflux
      • Medication induced
  • Adults
    • COPD (e.g., chronic bronchitis or emphysema)
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Pulmonary embolism
    • Mechanical obstruction of the airways (benign and malignant tumors)
    • Pulmonary infiltration with eosinophilia
    • Cough secondary to drugs (e.g., angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors)
    • Vocal cord dysfunction

Before diagnosing asthma, alternative possibilities should be considered such as the use of known bronchoconstrictors (substances that cause narrowing of the airways, e.g. certain anti-inflammatory agents or beta-blockers). Among elderly people, the presenting symptom may be fatigue, cough, or difficulty breathing, all of which may be erroneously attributed to Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD), congestive heart failure, or simple aging.

Read more about this topic:  Asthma, Diagnosis

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