Asthma is a big public health concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma has affected an estimated 262 million people in 2019 and caused 461000 deaths worldwide.  

Every year in May Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and World Health Organization (WHO) collaboratively organize World Asthma Day to raise asthma awareness worldwide. 

This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. The theme is a call to action to counter common asthma myths and misconceptions that hinder people with asthma from getting the most out of significant advances in asthma management. 

Common misconceptions surrounding asthma include:

  • It is contagious
  • It is untreatable
  • It is a psychiatric or psychosomatic disorder
  • Alternative treatments are more curative 
  • Children should not use inhalers
  • Inhalers are addictive
  • Inhalers are the last sort of treatment
  • Asthma is a childhood disease and people will grow out of it as they age
  • Asthma sufferers should not exercise
  • Asthma is only controllable with high-dose steroids

But the true facts are:

  • Asthma can occur at any age but is the most common chronic disease among children
  • Asthma is not infectious. Asthma attacks may, however, be triggered by viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold or the flu). Alternatively, asthma in children is often linked to allergies, whereas asthma in adults is less often allergic.
  • Asthmatic patients who have their asthma under control can perform heavy exercises
  • Asthma is most often controllable with low-dose inhaled steroids
  • Inhalers are not addictive and best controller device with fewer side effects

Asthma is a chronic airway inflammation characterized by respiratory symptoms that change in frequency and severity over time and are reversible either naturally or with medication. It is a chronic condition that is very common, treatable, and non-contagious. It is usually triggered by specific factors – outdoor and indoor allergen, food, etc. Common symptoms of asthma are cough, wheeze, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

Impact of asthma

Asthma is often under-diagnosed and under-treated and people can suffer sleep disturbance, tiredness during the day, and poor concentration. People with asthma may need emergency medical attention and may be admitted to a hospital for treatment and supervision if their symptoms are serious. Asthma can be fatal in the most serious cases.

Research says, for some children, asthma is a condition whose signs seem to fade with time. Although for many children, asthma lasts their entire lives and is associated with more serious symptoms, increased airway reactivity, and lung function loss. Typically, these children have a family history of asthma and exhibit increased airway reactivity. 

Several studies suggest that improper use of medications as single therapy increases the risk of asthma-related hospitalizations and mortality while mild asthma attacks can be treated at home when the patient is given proper instructions and adequate education.  

To reduce unnecessary visits to the hospital, patients must be educated about how to treat and monitor symptoms at home. Having a routine follow-up appointment with a primary care physician or a pediatrician, on the other hand, will help to reduce potential emergency visits and improve medication compliance.

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