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Asthma Myths and Facts

Updated on March 1, 2016

ASTHMA – MYTHS AND FACTS

Some Old Wives’ Tales

The Internet is a wonderful source of information. However, it seems to have a tendency to breed and perpetuate misinformation. There are tons of myths about asthma floating around. Most of them are much older than the Internet and originate from stories that have been passed down from one generation to another.

Here are four common misconceptions about asthma. Each one features a little history explaining where the myth comes from, what it is based on and what the actual facts are.

MYTH #1 : Using My Reliever Inhaler Is A Normal Part of Having Asthma

The blue reliever medication is not intended for daily use. In fact, if you use it more than three times a week, it means your asthma is not properly controlled. Many people think that having asthma means they should be puffing on their inhalers often, and that kind of thinking leads them to endanger their lives by not seeking to improve their condition.

The media certainly likes to portray asthmatics as always having to pull out the inhaler as soon as they walk a few feet. The truth is, when your asthma is under control, you almost never have to use the reliever.

MYTH #2 : Inhaled Steroids Are Addictive

Many people think that once you start taking asthma medication, you have to take it for life. This comes from the fact that most cortisone-based medications are indeed addictive and the dose should be tapered down when quitting the drug to avoid health problems like surrenal gland failure. However, the dose of corticosteroid contained in asthma medication is very small and does not cause physical addiction.

The reason people take it for life is because it is by far the most efficient way to control asthma. Taking the preventer inhaler (steroid) means that you reduce inflammation in your airways on a long-term basis. Unfortunately, asthma is a chronic disease and requires a lifetime treatment plan, much like a diabetic will often need to use insulin for the rest of their life.

MYTH #3 : Asthma Is All In Your Head

This myth comes from 20th century physicians who started thinking that asthma was a psychosomatic conditions. They believed that it was caused by depression or other psychiatric illnesses, and came out physically as a respiratory disorder. To this day, many people and even scientifics still believe that.

The truth is, asthma may have a psychological component. Not being well emotionally often translates into physical illnesses. However, asthma is definitely a physical disease that can be controlled with medication, education and lifestyle changes. Emotional well-being can have a positive effect on how well you follow your treatment, too.

MYTH #4 : I Cannot Exercise Because I Have Asthma

A great many people have the mindset that exercise will cause them to have an asthma attack. Avoiding exercise comes at a price; you put yourself at risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, joint and muscle pain, and more. In fact, exercise generally has a positive effect on overall respiratory condition.

To be able to exercise safely as an asthmatic, it is important to discuss the issue with your doctor. He or she may recommend that you take some medication before, that you increase your regular dose or that you favor certain types of exercises over others. It is important to know your body and its limits. Remain reasonable, watch out for signs of deterioration of your respiratory condition and enjoy regular physical activity.

Sources

Asthma Australia : http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/onAIR/Top_10_asthma_myths.aspx#.Uweu8mJ5NsU

Asthma UK : http://www.asthma.org.uk/knowledge-bank-treatment-and-medicines-reliever-inhalers

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