Uncovering misconceptions about asthma

In these unprecedented times, the burden of lung diseases has increased manifold. As we are fighting against the global pandemic, people are getting hit by a great deal of misinformation and misconceptions around lung health, and especially so in the case of asthma. As World Asthma Day was marked recently (May 5), the most important point noted by experts was the need to come together to dispel the myths and fears regarding asthma and encourage those affected by this condition to live a healthy life.

Talking about asthma, Dr. Sashiraj Eswarappa, medical superintendent, consultant, internal medicine, KIMS Oman, said, “Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder of the lungs in which there is inflammation (swelling) of the airways in the lungs. Due to this inflammation, the airways are narrowed, and the lungs become vulnerable to various allergens that act as triggers for an asthma attack. Dust, cold, pollen, furry pets, viruses, and air pollutants, and even emotional agitation act as triggers for an asthma attack.”

Although asthma is not curable, it is possible to gain complete control over it and lead a normal active life. “Here, the correct treatment and adherence to asthma management is crucial. The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines recommend inhalation therapy as the best and safest way to control asthma as it reaches the lungs directly and starts acting immediately.”

Highlighting the importance of inhalers, Dr. Eswarappa said, “Due to its chronic nature, asthma requires long-term treatment and inhalers play a predominant part in leading a healthy life with asthma. Many patients frequently underutilize their medications or use their inhalers incorrectly, which, at times, cause them to switch to oral therapy or they discontinue treatment means stopping the very thing that is keeping the patient fit and healthy. Patients should always consult their doctor on asthma management and the use of inhalers. It should not be stopped without consultation.”

Doctors list down the myths they encounter in their day-to-day practice and emphasize that this World Asthma Day, we need to get together to clear up the misconceptions around asthma and inhalers.

Myth1: Everyone with asthma experiences the same symptoms

Factcheck: Asthma symptoms vary from person to person, and it is important to watch them carefully for a correct diagnosis by the doctor.

Myth 2: Most people outgrow their asthma

Factcheck: Asthma may improve with age, but it’s a lifelong condition. As a chronic condition, there is no cure for asthma and symptoms can resurface at any time.

Myth 3: Asthma can’t be fatal

Factcheck: Lack of adherence can lead to worsening of the situation. Stopping your inhalers without consulting a doctor can be dangerous.

Myth 4: Asthma is contagious

Factcheck: Asthma can be caused by both hereditary and environmental factors. It is not contagious.

Myth 5: Asthma is an old-age disease

Factcheck: Asthma can strike people of any age

Myth 6: It is not safe for people with asthma to exercise

Factcheck: Asthma is no reason to lead an inactive life. Many doctors encourage patients to be active. Many sports personalities have asthma and still lead an active life.

Myth 7: Inhalers are addictive

Factcheck: Inhalers are not addictive, and they have been recognized and widely accepted as the mainstay of asthma management.

Myth 8: No symptoms mean no asthma

Factcheck: Being symptom-free does not equal being asthma-free.

Discontinuation of the recommended medication may result in aggravation of the disease and chances are that the symptoms may flare up anytime – and with double impact.

According to Eswarappa, “Ongoing education is of paramount importance in chronic diseases such as asthma. And remember – in case of any symptoms, it is always advisable to consult a doctor – the right treatment at the early stage can make all the difference.”

Source: Oman Observer