To mark World Asthma Day on 3 May 2016, the Asthma & Allergy Association (AAA), a community-based organization in Singapore, debunks commonly held beliefs about the chronic lung disease.
#1 Asthma only affects children
FACT: Asthma can affect people of all ages. Studies conducted show that only about 20 to 50% of patients with childhood asthma “outgrow” it, even though symptoms may still return in adulthood.
#2 Children and people with asthma should not exercise
FACT: People with asthma can exercise and lead a normal life. Exercising is not only good for your health, it helps you breathe better and keeps your weight down. If you are asthmatic, speak with your doctor before starting any exercise programme. There are many professional athletes like swimmers who have asthma which is under control.
#3 Smoking is not related to asthma
FACT: Smoking is not a healthy lifestyle choice, but it's even worse for people with asthma, as it worsens the narrowing of the airways. Even secondhand smoke affects your lungs, so try to avoid smoking altogether.
#4 Asthma is not related to other allergies
FACT: Asthma – especially in children – is linked to other allergic diseases. About 70 to 80% of asthmatics have allergic rhinitis and 50% of them have eczema. These conditions are also linked to dust mite allergies, so controlling allergic rhinitis is important to keep asthma under control.
#5 Asthma is inherited
FACT: Besides your genes, environmental factors also play a role in whether you have asthma or not. But the odds are lower - you have a 6% chance of having asthma if neither parent has the condition; 30% chance if one parent has it; and 70% chance if both parents have it.
#6 Asthma is not associated with digestive disorders
FACT: Around 50-70% of adult patients with asthma have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Treating the reflux improves the cough.
#7 Inhalers are only used when breathless
FACT: Most patients are on maintenance inhalers which have to be taken every day – even if they feel well – to prevent flare ups. These are not to be confused with rescue inhalers (eg. Salbutamol inhalers) that open the windpipe when one is breathless. Check with your asthma nurse or doctor if you are unsure.
#8 Asthma inhalers are addictive
FACT: Asthma inhalers do not contain any drugs that will potentially cause addiction. The inhaled corticosteroids are deposited almost entirely into the airway and should not be absorbed into the body. As long as you rinse your mouth after, there should not be any side effects such as oral thrush.
#9 Asthma attacks are not preventable
FACT: You can prevent asthma attacks by using maintenance inhalers daily or regularly, avoiding triggers and going for yearly flu vaccinations.
#10 Asthma attacks are not life-threatening
FACT: Severe asthma attacks can cause low oxygen levels or even cause your heart to stop. If your asthma attack does not go away with using your rescue inhaler (eg. Salbutamol inhalers), seek medical attention immediately.
The above information is provided by the Asthma & Allergy Association.