Got asthma aggravation? Get relief, know the facts.

By Julie Jordan
Published May 28, 2019

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Georgia. Nature comes to life again in a colorful array of blossoms and buzzing bees. Unfortunately, new allergens also emerge. Pollen and other triggers make it difficult to breathe. No one feels this more acutely than those with asthma.  

Sometimes it is hard to know how to best live with asthma. It seems to come and go to varying degrees, but it is chronic, and there is no cure. With treatment, asthma patients can live long, healthy lives. Improve your quality of life by learning the truth behind these common asthma myths.

Myth 1: Asthma is an emotional disorder; it’s “all in the mind.”

Asthma is a lung disease; it affects the airways, not the brain. It’s true that symptoms may get worse when a person is under emotional stress, but this is probably more marked in adults and less so in children. Changes in the airways in asthma occur through physiological mechanisms, not emotional ones.

Experts do not know what causes asthma. If one of your family members has asthma, you are more likely to have asthma. To diagnose asthma, your doctor will listen to your lungs and check for allergies you may have. 

Myth 2: Asthma symptoms are the same for everyone.

Asthma affects each person differently. One person may show several symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness and fatigue, while another may only cough. The most common symptoms of asthma are coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.

Myth 3: Children grow out of asthma.

Many children with asthma improve with age, and it appears to go away completely. However, asthma symptoms may return in adulthood. It never truly goes away.  

Over 10% of children living in Georgia have asthma. More are undiagnosed. 

Myth 4: If your child has asthma, he or she should not play sports or be active.

Sports and other forms of activity are just as important for someone with asthma as they are for someone without asthma. It is important to control a child’s asthma and make sure they follow the guidelines set by their doctor to take controller medications, including before being active. They should also have a current asthma action plan from their doctor to help prevent asthma attacks.  

An Asthma Action Plan [pdf] lists all medications your child takes with instructions on when to take them. It describes how to achieve long-term control, and it explains what to do when asthma symptoms arise.   

Myth 5: People with asthma should use medications only when they have attacks; otherwise, the medications lose their effect.

Regularly using medications is the only way to calm airway inflammation and prevent asthma flare-ups. Used at the correct dosage, daily medications do not lose their effect or cause side effects.

Myth 6: Once asthma symptoms improve, it’s ok to stop taking asthma medications.

There are some asthma medications, called “controller” medications or “everyday” medications that should be taken even when a person with asthma does not have any symptoms.  These medications help control asthma, and if a person stops taking them, the asthma symptoms will likely return.

In Georgia, 29% of children with asthma reported not using any prescribed medications to control their asthma over the past 12 months. Only 44% of children are using both control and reliever or rescue medications.

Asthma control tips:

  • Reduce exposure to your triggers
  • Understand and manage your allergies
  • Work with your doctor to create an Asthma Action Plan and an Asthma Care Plan
  • Use maintenance/controller medications daily, as recommended by your primary care provider
  • Keep your routine asthma wellness visits with you primary care provider and review your Asthma Care Plan
  • Know your symptoms and early warning signs of an asthma episode
  • Complete the Asthma Home Environment Checklist to identify and address triggers inside your home that could cause and an asthma episode
  • Ask your primary care provider about participating in asthma self-management classes