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A million potential asthma misdiagnoses.

More than a million adults may be wrongly diagnosed with asthma warns an NHS watchdog.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has revealed today that a third of adults with the condition may be receiving unnecessary medication as a result of the misdiagnosis.

According to NICE guidelines, some of these people may have had asthma in the past, but many have been diagnosed without showing any clinical signs of the condition.

Despite the change in guidelines, which advise doctors to use more clinical tests before making a diagnosis, patients have been warned not to stop their medication before speaking to a healthcare professional.

Prof Mark Baker, director of clinical practice at NICE, 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 UK welcomes the new guidelines - but warns there is also evidence asthma is under-diagnosed too - and that eight out of 10 asthma sufferers are still not getting the correct basic care.

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK, says: "Asthma has many complex causes which is one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult to get a definitive diagnosis.

"It is also a highly variable condition that can change throughout someone's life or even week by week, meaning treatment can change over time.

"For anyone with an asthma diagnosis, it is vital they have the right medication and a plan to better manage their condition and any asthma attacks.”