Sat, Jun 02, 2012 - Page 13 News List

The difficulties of recognizing asthma
氣喘難辨 早就醫確診早治療

A doctor gives a boy an inhaler in New Taipei City on Oct. 19 last year.

Photo: Lin Hsiang-mei, Liberty Times

A woman surnamed Lin, who works at a textile factory, was suffering from chest distress and having difficulty breathing every time she was in the factory. She initially thought it was a heart disease-related issue, but after undergoing numerous tests and finding nothing out of the ordinary, she decided to see a thoracic surgeon, who diagnosed her with asthma. The doctor says asthma is not easy to diagnose, so people should seek medical help as soon as possible if they have asthmatic symptoms.

Yu Chun-hsiang, a thoracic surgeon at National Cheng Kung University Hospital’s Douliou Branch, says that because Lin did not have the typical wheezing of an asthma patient, it was difficult to tell whether she actually had asthma. After confirming that it was indeed asthma, she started taking medicine and wearing a mask at work, and the symptoms began showing improvement.

Yu says asthma is most common in children and the elderly, and that it can be hereditary. Many people with asthmatic symptoms do not know they have asthma because the symptoms are so subtle. It may cause severe contractions of pulmonary valves, heart palpitations, escalating blood pressure, difficulty getting rid of carbon dioxide, low concentration of oxygen, leading to a coma and respiratory failure.

Most cases of asthma are caused by external factors, the most common being diet-related, including breathing in allergens or coming into contact with animal proteins from foods. The opposite of this is endogenous asthma, which is not caused by allergens, the most common being infectious respiratory viruses.

Yu says diagnosing asthma is difficult, and many diseases exhibit the same symptoms as asthma, including children with respiratory infections, choking on foreign objects, adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other pulmonary or cardiovascular diseases. Usually, however, only one or two people out of 10 who suspect they have asthma and seek medical attention actually have the condition.


1. symptom n.

症狀 (zheng4 zhuang4)

例: Frequent trips to the bathroom, unquenchable thirst, losing weight without trying and fatigue are some of the symptoms of diabetes.


2. infection n.

感染 (gan2 ran3)

例: The infection symptoms were relieved with antibiotics.


3. pollute v.

汙染 (wu1 ran3)

例: Their only source of water became polluted, so they started going to a neighboring village to get water.


People should seek immediate medical attention if they are repeatedly wheezing, have obvious coughing at night, coughing or wheezing after exercise, coughing from breathing polluted air or cigarette smoke, chest distress or wheezing, chest distress when coming down with a cold and the cold does not get better for 10 days or longer, or chest distress or wheezing after taking aspirin or beta-blockers.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)








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