There are many other health conditions that have symptoms similar to asthma symptoms. These conditions are sometimes called asthma mimics or asthma mimickers. Some of these conditions include:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This is a disorder in which stomach contents and acid flow back into the esophagus, causing frequent heartburn, which can lead to asthma-like symptoms.
Myocardial ischemia: This is a form of heart disease that occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced, which prevents the heart from receiving enough oxygen. In severe cases, this can cause a heart attack. The main symptom for myocardial ischemia and heart attack is pain, but shortness of breath is another possible symptom.
Congestive heart failure: This is a heart condition in which the heart does not pump correctly, which leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs. Shortness of breath is a common symptom of congestive heart failure.
Vocal cord dysfunction: This is a condition in which the larynx, or voice box, muscles close rapidly, which can cause breathing difficulties.
Vocal cord paralysis: This is a loss of function of the vocal cords, which can make breathing difficult.
Upper airflow obstruction: In this condition, the flow of air is blocked by something such as a tumor or enlarged thyroid glands.
Sinusitis: You may also hear this called a sinus infection. Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses, which can cause a number of respiratory symptoms. Sinusitis often coexists with asthma.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): This virus can cause wheezing and pneumonia in babies and young children. RSV can lead to childhood asthma.
Aspiration: When you accidentally breathe food or other matter into the lungs, it’s called aspiration.
Pulmonary aspergillosis: This is a fungal infection of lung tissues.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Several lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, are categorized as types of COPD. These diseases are most commonly caused by cigarette smoking.
Bronchiectasis: This is a lung disease characterized by injury to the walls of the airways in the lungs. Repeated infection is the main cause of bronchiectasis.
Bronchogenic carcinoma: This is the medical name for lung cancer, which can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.
Cystic fibrosis: This is a genetic disorder that can cause growth problems, chronic cough, chronic sinusitis, and recurrent lung infections.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia: This is a disorder characterized by abnormal movement of the cilia in the body. This leads to recurrent ear infections, sinusitis, and lung infections.