Other conditions with symptoms similar to asthma

Many conditions may resemble asthma, making it difficult for health professionals to be certain of a diagnosis of asthma. This may be especially true when evaluating whether a child has asthma or some other condition that causes similar symptoms.

In adults

In adults, other conditions that may cause symptoms similar to asthma include:

In children

In children, other conditions that may cause symptoms similar to asthma include:

  • Diseases of the respiratory system, such as allergies (allergic rhinitis), sinusitis, tuberculosis, or whooping cough (pertussis).
  • Obstructions in the large airways, such as a foreign object in the throat or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Obstruction in the small airways, such as from viral bronchiolitis or cystic fibrosis.
  • Recurrent cough not caused by asthma.
  • Vocal cord dysfunction.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Heart failure present at birth (congenital heart failure).
  • Airway abnormalities present at birth, such as when the tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus) does not develop correctly (tracheoesophageal fistula).

Some people who have been diagnosed with asthma continue to have uncontrolled symptoms even with appropriate treatment. The continuation of symptoms may be caused by a person not following the asthma plan, not taking medications as prescribed, or having another cause of his or her symptoms.

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

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