Asthma – Myths and Facts

The truth about asthma

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Myth: Asthma can be cured

Fact: Asthma is a chronic condition. Even though asthma cannot be cured, it can be well controlled with the use of the correct medication. If your asthma is well controlled, you are able to live a long and healthy life.

Myth: Children can outgrow asthma

Fact: Asthma is a chronic and life-long condition. Children cannot outgrow asthma, however the condition can be managed with the use of medication. It is important to establish an asthma action plan for your child in order to know which procedures to take should there be a problem1,2

Myth: I shouldn’t exercise or play sports if I have asthma

Fact: Exercise does not only provide you with the benefit of leading a healthy lifestyle, but also of taking better control of your asthma. There are exercises are that are better suited for asthmatics and will not exacerbate the symptoms i.e. walking, swimming. It is important to take the necessary precautions when exercising for example always carrying your inhaler with you, avoiding pollen/air pollution and be consistent with your exercising. This can lead to better management of asthma and its symptoms3

Myth: I can only be asthmatic if I experience shortness of breath

Fact: Being short of breath alone is not entirely a sign of asthma, as this may occur even during or after moderate physical activity. Asthma occurs because of airway inflammation (swelling) and bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the airways). Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness as well as shortness of breath3,4.


Myth: All asthma triggers are the same and I can use any medication available

Fact: Asthmatics react to different asthma triggers, such as pollen, tobacco smoke, dust mites or air pollution, and there are different types of inhaler devices that can be used. The medication is also prescribed in different ways. Medication prescribed also depends on severity, age and what would be best suited to keep your asthma under control.

Based on all these factors your healthcare provider will set up a plan that is best suited for your needs. Medication used should be as prescribed by your healthcare professional3,5,6.

Myth: I only need to take my asthma medication when I have an asthma attack or when experiencing asthma symptoms
Fact: The goal of asthma treatment is to prevent asthma flare-ups (attacks) and control symptoms (such as wheezing, shortness of breath). So, even when you are feeling okay, your medication should be taken regularly as prescribed by your healthcare professional to control the underlying airway inflammation3.

Myth: Smoking does not affect my asthma

Fact: Smoke is harmful to the respiratory system. Asthmatics have sensitive airways and may react to certain triggers such as cigarette smoke, resulting in asthma symptoms or an asthma attack. It is also important to avoid second hand smoke when you are asthmatic, as this will worsen your asthma7,8.

Myth: My asthma medication will lose its effectiveness if I use it every day

Fact: Asthma medications differ in terms of them being preventers or relievers. Generally, relievers are used to give you a quick a relief when experiencing asthma symptoms. Preventer inhalers calm the airways by reducing inflammation and swelling, which is the underlying cause of the condition. It is always important to speak to your healthcare professional to review your asthma treatment, should you feel the need.

Myth: I can’t be asthmatic and have allergic rhinitis at the same time

Fact:  Asthma and allergic rhinitis are related conditions and people with allergic rhinitis have a higher chance of developing asthma. “United airways disease” means that the upper and lower airways form one organ and conditions of the upper and lower airways may occur concurrently3,10,11.

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