Three Things You Thought You Knew About Asthma

Black woman uses asthma inhaler after exercising outside.

Millions of Americans struggle with asthma, but myths about the condition still abound. Debunk some of the most common misconceptions with MainStreet!

Asthma: The Facts

Before we dive into all the myths about asthma, let’s talk about what the condition actually is! Bronchial asthma affects the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. It causes the tubes to swell and narrow, making it difficult to breathe.

This condition manifests in different ways and is categorized by type. Some common ones include:

  • Allergic asthma – triggered by allergens in the air
  • Exercise-induced asthma – caused by physical activity or irritants related to a sport
  • Occupational asthma – triggered by chemical fumes or irritants related to your workplace

As an ongoing, chronic condition, it never goes away but can be treated to minimize symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness or pain
  • wheezing when breathing out (often accompanied by a whistling sound)
  • coughing or wheezing attacks

Treatment starts with working with your provider to outline an asthma action plan. This typically involves identifying triggers, how to avoid them, and using medications and quick-relief inhalers.

Need to create your action plan? MainStreet treats asthma in our primary care services.

All About Asthma Attacks

An asthma attack happens with exposure to a trigger. Different triggers cause flare ups for different people, but some common triggers include:

  • Allergens like pollen, mold sores, pet dander and other airborne substances
  • Workplace irritants like chemical fumes, gasses or dust
  • Extremely cold or dry air

When you have an attack, your body responds to a trigger in a few different ways:

  • Bronchospasms – muscles around the airway constrict
  • Inflammation – muscles around the airway swell
  • Increased mucus production – mucus clogs the airways

Myth 1: Asthma Only Affects Kids

Many people think that asthma is only a “childhood condition” and that most kids grow out of it. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t “outgrow” this condition.

Some people who suffered with the condition as children may experience fewer symptoms as they age. This can be because of increased lung capacity or improvements in their immune system. However, this does not mean the condition cleared up entirely. 

In fact, some people experience symptoms for the first time as adults. Experts call this adult-onset asthma, and various factors can cause it. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, some people simply avoid their triggers for years. Then when they’re exposed to that trigger, they experience symptoms. 

Myth 2: People With Asthma Should Not Exercise

Many believe that asthmatics can’t play sports or engage in physical activity. You may be surprised to learn that this isn’t true. While exercise with severe asthma can be difficult, physical activity can actually help with your symptoms. Getting into an exercise routine can help strengthen your lungs, build stamina, improve blood flow to your lungs and more.

We recommend that asthmatics take their journey into regular exercise slowly. This helps you build up stamina over time, especially if you have frequent symptoms. Always talk with your doctor about any exercise routine if you feel hesitant or worried.

Myth 3: Asthma Medications Cure Asthma or Are Habit-Forming 

Asthma medications are an essential part of any treatment plan. These medications include long-term control medications, quick-relief inhalers and even allergy medications.

Medications for long-term asthma control help manage symptoms daily and decrease the number of attacks. But that doesn’t mean this type of medicine cures the condition completely. We highly recommend using these medications if you do have consistent symptoms. 

Additionally, some people believe that these medications can be addictive. While these medications have to be used long term and can help those with life-threatening symptoms, they are not habit-forming. 

Turn To MainStreet Family Care

Needing some assistance in treating your asthma symptoms? MainStreet can help!

To visit primary care, schedule an appointment in the patient portal. We can’t wait to see you!