Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperreactivity, and underlying inflammation. Two common reasons asthmatics fail standard therapy are incorrect diagnosis and failure to recognize underlying contributing factors. A correct diagnosis of asthma is of great importance to military practitioners since misdiagnosis or uncontrolled asthma affects an individual's operational readiness or determines whether one can receive a medical waiver to enlist in military service. This article presents four cases of patients with dyspnea that have conditions which mimic asthma or complicate asthma management: vocal cord dysfunction misdiagnosed as asthma, respiratory bronchiolitis interstitial lung disease mistaken as asthma, difficult-to-control asthma because of bronchiectasis and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, and difficult and fatal asthma. Asthma is contrasted to other respiratory disorders, and an outlined approach to asthma diagnosis and management is presented using the Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines.