Factors or Conditions That Impersonate Asthma
Chronic disease like asthma is a illness of the respiratory tract and is mainly caused by constriction of the air passages due to many reasons. There are quite a few conditions that manifest with symptoms similar to that of asthma.
This makes these diseases as well as asthma both very difficult to diagnose. Some conditions that impersonate the symptoms of asthma relatively closely are described here to facilitate ease of detection and treatment.
Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema: Chronic bronchitis,COPD and emphysema are diseases that are very closely related to asthma. It is generally seen that the patients of slightly older ages start with asthma and later on if untreated develop symptoms of chronic bronchitis, which may eventually lead to symptoms of emphysema.
The asthma may be due to allergens of any kind, which are difficult to detect as it is, and the system thus provoked may lead to more severe disorders. Sometimes the whole cycle may go in a different direction altogether and the patients develop asthma after a prolonged bout of chronic bronchitis.
Thus, whichever route the diseases take it becomes complicated to chalk out the path where one may lead to another and symptoms may be very closely entangled.
In different cases it is observed that a patient develops intrinsic asthma after suffering with chronic bronchitis at some very early stages in life. Intrinsic asthma may develop much later and also without any apparent history of allergens or any genetic indications. So many times because of the close relativity of all these diseases it becomes very difficult to chart out the primary cause leading to other complications. Closeness in symptoms also presents a very tricky situation.
Cardiac Asthma: In this situation the symptoms of breathlessness are similar to those of bronchial asthma but they are caused mainly because of a heart disease. These symptoms happen generally during sleep or after exertion. The attacks are very similar to those of asthma accompanied by suffocation and tightening of chest muscles. They may even create pain in the chest region. The patient gasps for breath and is very restless.
He/she may sweat profusely and has terrible difficulty in inhalation and exhalation. This may also be accompanied by a sharp rise in blood pressure and may trigger off terrifying fear of death in patients. The attacks may last for about few minutes to few hours. After the attack the patients feel terribly exhausted even for several days.
In contrast to bronchial asthma, cardiac asthma is caused by failure of the pumping action of the left ventricle of the human heart. It is generally a condition that is suspected in people with a history of hyper tension and heart diseases in the family. It is also to be generally ruled out before proceeding for further treatments if the patient happens to be above the age of forty years.
Hysterical Emphysema: This is a disease that is mostly psycho-somatic in nature. It is generally found in young girls and also in some hyper sensitive older women. In this symptoms are that of heavy breathing but do not show any difficulty in breathing. There is no perspiration and apparently there is no wheezing too. Bu the patient still feels very heavy breathing. The attack usually manifests after an emotionally charged bout that may include uncanny anger.
Many people who have had an attack like this emphasize unconsciously on the symptoms. This also makes them impersonate the symptoms repeatedly. Psychological analysis may reveal conditions of mild to extreme emotional insecurity in cases suffering from hysterical asthma.
The good part is that the disease is neither serious nor may lead to any other serious ailment. It is mainly a mental condition and may also trigger off from severe hypochondria. The patients may also begin to use it as a tool for emotional manipulation of other people around them. There are really no age barriers for this disease to manifest and many times chronic cases may need psychological therapy to get over the symptoms permanently.
Viral Bronchiolitis, Foreign Body Aspiration and Cystic Fibrosis:
These three conditions are generally found in children and have symptoms closely mimicking those of asthma. Viral Bronchiolitis is a condition caused by a potent virus called the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This virus causes wheezing and fever and the symptoms do not respond to anti-wheezing treatments.
Foreign body aspiration is found in toddlers mainly who tend to put everything in their mouths. These foreign bodies may then get sucked into the bronchial tubes and get lodged in the trachea. These may be tricky to detect as many foreign bodies do not get reflected on the X-ray and the symptoms are very similar to asthma. The doctors sometimes have to manually check and remove the foreign body with the help of a bronchoscope.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a serious disorder which may produce chronic intestinal and pulmonary problems. The symptoms here are those of severe asthma. The disease may start with recurrent infections and pneumonia. The infants who are underweight and prematurely born generally show the symptoms of CF. the chest X-rays of such children show severe scarring of the lungs due to recurring bouts of pneumonia. CF is best detected with the help of a sweat test because the patients secrete excessive amounts of sodium and chloride salts in their sweat.
Other different conditions similar to asthma may be malignant tumors of the chest like lymphosarcoma and Hodgkin’s disease. Also swelling of the wall of aorta known as aneurysm may cause symptoms of asthma. At times taking in of inorganic and organic substances also causes symptoms of severe asthma.