More than £1m adults in the UK are receiving unneeded treatment for asthma.
Of the 4.1m people receiving treatment for asthma, 30% of them do not present symptoms of asthma, claim the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
A spirometer, which measures how quickly and how much air is exhaled, should be used as the first test for asthma, NICE recommend. Further tests should be carried out depending on these results and on the age of the patient.
For adults and children under the age of five, tests to measure the amount of nitric oxide (FeNO) and the reaction of the airways to drugs that widen the airways (bronchodilators) have been advised.
People with asthma exhale a higher amount of FeNO when they exhale and also react more strongly after being exposed to bronchodilators.
Treatment for those under five has been left to the “professional judgement and observation” of their GP.
It is claimed a tenth of adults with asthma develop these conditions due to exposure from chemicals or dust in the workplace.
Director of clinical practice at NICE, Professor Mark Baker. said: “Accurate diagnosis of asthma has been a significant problem which means that people may be wrongly diagnosed or cases might be missed in others. Our aim with this guideline is to give clarity and set out the most clinical and cost effective ways to diagnose and monitor asthma based on the best available evidence.
“Asthma is a long-term incurable condition that affects millions of people of all ages. If left untreated asthma attacks can be life threatening.”