The need for a differential diagnosis: There is no “one” solution to treat all respiratory diseases

Updated on September 19, 2019

As the gross level of pollution keeps rising across the globe, airway diseases are becoming more common by the day. The most common airway diseases and discomforts include allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma, bronchiectasis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The discomfort these diseases cause can range from mild to severe depending upon exposure, pre-existing conditions (comorbidity), and course of treatment. However, the more significant challenge any airway disease poses is the correct diagnosis. Due to shared symptoms, it is not uncommon for patients to receive the wrong diagnosis or the incorrect course of treatments.

Why should you visit an expert for diagnosing your respiratory troubles?

Correct diagnosis at the right time can save the patients a lot of suffering and significant money. Maranatha Medical Plaza is one of the many institutes in the US that specializes in the diagnosis of airway pathologies that plague the nation’s kids, youth, and adults.  

Other, less common disorders of the respiratory tract like pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung diseases can present a significant challenge during diagnosis and treatment unless the medical experts detect them in the early stages. Any best quality healthcare provider should run thorough tests for all possible lung and respiratory tract diseases in humans when a patient presents with overlapping or confusing symptoms.

What causes diseases of the airway in children and adults?

According to experts at the institute, smoking is the leading etiological factor that ultimately leads to COPD. However, the main trigger for asthma patients includes exposure to a specific animal and plant proteins. For example, exposure to pollens from certain flowers can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible people. Occurrences of asthma are more common during the spring months (flowering seasons) in the US as compared to the winter. On the other hand, in countries where women smoke less than men, the percentage of men suffering from COPD is much higher than the fairer sex.  

Nonetheless, one cannot disregard the genetic factors that come into play in the prevalence of respiratory tract diseases. Some cases of asthma can be hereditary, cystic fibrosis is a result of a genetic mutation, and individual families have a higher chance of developing bronchiectasis due to genetic mutations leading to humoral and cellular immunodeficiency disorders. 

Other factors like acid reflux, gastritis, and a history of infections (both viral and bacterial) influence the occurrence of bronchiectasis in adults. Passive smoking and chronic deficiencies of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) can also contribute to bronchiectasis in adulthood via the inflammation of the respiratory tract. 

Why is it necessary to obtain a proper and correct diagnosis?

These are all diseases that cause acute or chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. However, each one bears distinct characteristics that offer windows for proper and rapid treatment. For example, allergic asthma presents a higher count of mast cells, eosinophils, and CD4 T lymphocytes. These are parts of the immune system that acts against allergens. Bronchiectasis and COPD patients have a higher count of macrophages, neutrophils, and CD8 T lymphocytes. Bacterial and viral infections tend to activate this entourage of defense cells in the body. Advanced medical tests make differential diagnosis of such diseases quite straightforward these days. 

No matter how severe or mild your symptoms are, you should visit an expert physician. With the correct treatment, it is possible to manage almost all diseases of the airway.

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