As asthma rates have increased, so has our knowledge about the condition and our available treatments. Unfortunately, it’s led to a rise in something else, too – misconceptions. With so many people suffering, it’s important to separate the facts from the fiction.
Here’s what you should know (and disregard) about the six most common asthma myths:
Myth: You shouldn’t exercise or play sports if you have asthma.
Fact: Exercise is a crucial part of any healthy lifestyle, even for those with asthma.
Patients whose asthma is well-controlled are encouraged to engage in regular physical activity. Studies have shown that regular exercise strengthens the lungs, keeps you healthy, and prevents obesity – all of which are crucial for managing the condition.
Exercise can cause increased asthma symptoms in some patients. There are treatments to help manage exercise-induced asthma, such as taking medications before or during physical activity or exercising a certain way.
Myth: You can’t die from asthma.
Fact: On average, 10 Americans die from asthma every day.
The myth that asthma isn’t fatal causes many patients to neglect or even forgo proper asthma treatment. Any asthma attack can turn life-threatening in a matter of seconds, making it extremely important to keep the condition under control. Those at the highest risk of dying due to asthma include adults, females, and African Americans.
Myth: Children usually outgrow asthma.
Fact: Asthma is a lifelong and incurable condition.
Asthma is more common in children than in adults because it typically develops during childhood. It is not uncommon to see improvement in asthma as children get older and their lungs and airways expand. However, many of these patients will see their symptoms return in adulthood, often without warning. Nearly eight percent of adults in the United States currently have asthma.
Myth: The steroids used to treat asthma will stunt my child’s growth.
Fact: Studies show that children treated with inhaled corticosteroids reach normal height.
The inhaled corticosteroids given via nebulizer are not the same anabolic steroids taken by athletes. They also do not prevent children from reaching their full adult height. However, children with untreated asthma may have stunted growth when compared to their peers.
Myth: You should only treat asthma attacks.
Fact: Preventative medication is a crucial part of asthma treatment.
Asthma attacks can be unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Patients with asthma have underlying inflammation even when visible symptoms aren’t present. It’s important to keep your asthma under control and prevent future attacks by using daily controller medications and treating or avoiding your asthma triggers.
Myth: Asthma medication is harmful, habit-forming, and stops working over time.
Fact: Asthma medication is safe, effective, and non-addictive.
Asthma is a chronic disease that requires long-term treatment. You may always need asthma medications to keep your condition under control, but that does not mean you are addicted to them. All asthma medications undergo strict testing for safety and effectiveness and are prescribed because the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
There are various types of asthma medications that each serve a different purpose. Some medications like inhaled corticosteroids only work when you take them every day, while treatments like rescue inhalers should be used as-needed to reduce symptoms. No asthma medication has been shown to lose effectiveness, even with long-term use.