Asthma – Myths and Facts

What is a myth and what is a fact when it comes to asthma

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


Fact: Being short of breath alone is not exclusively 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: 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.


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 can 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 to know which procedures to take should there be a problem1,2

Symptoms may become less over time and reduce the need or intensity of treatment. If this is the case it is important to mention that one had asthma as a child when presenting to a healthcare practitioner with a health complaint


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: 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: 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 different types of inhaler devices 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 should be used as prescribed by your healthcare professional3,5,6.


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 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 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 inflammation.

Some people only need occasional treatment when they have infrequent asthma episodes (relievers). Others need in addition to relievers, regular daily medication (preventers) to control the underlying airway inflammation that causes more regular asthma flare-ups (attacks) and symptoms (such as wheezing, shortness of breath). If you have been prescribed medication that you should take routinely every day, you should do so even if you are feeling okay.

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