These are challenging times, especially since a virus has crippled the health of millions. Increase in pollution raises susceptibility to the infection, something which has already been aggravating respiratory illnesses like asthma. While air pollution has dropped sharply around the world, including India, the novel virus that targets the lungs could potentially put an asthmatic patient at risk.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung condition, which makes it difficult for a person to breathe. It is characterised by attacks of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This inflammatory condition can either be minor or can interfere with day-to-day activities. It affects the airways that carry air to your lungs. Patients dealing with asthma have swollen or inflamed airways, which can make a person more sensitive to irritants.
Asthma can make breathing difficult for the sufferer. It is triggered by irritants or some allergen, like cold air, viruses, tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, moulds, and animal dander. The symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or chest tightness. In some people, severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. An asthma attack may last a few minutes or for days. Attacks can happen anywhere and at any time. It is the most common chronic disease among children worldwide. More than 339 million people are living with asthma. It is very important to get treatment for asthma to live a healthy, active life.
Millions of people suffer from asthma but despite its prevalence, several myths and misconceptions surround asthma.
Below are some of the myths and facts on asthma, to help manage the condition better-
Fact – Symptoms of asthma may reappear in adulthood
There is no cure for asthma, but the frequency of asthma attacks and the severity may reduce with age. Children with asthma may see an improvement in their condition, as they grow older. Their sensitivity to asthmatic triggers may also reduce.
Fact – Exercising regularly is found to be beneficial for asthma patients
It is a common notion that exercising will aggravate the symptoms of asthma. But the fact is, physical activity helps to strengthen and improve lung function. It is also found to improve the overall fitness and quality of life of people with asthma. However, strenuous physical activity can lead to an asthma attack and hence, should be avoided.
Fact – Asthma medications are safe and necessary for effective management of asthma
As asthma is a chronic condition, which is why long-term medications are required to manage the symptoms. These medications relax the muscles surrounding the airways and widen the airways. Bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids are some of the medications used to manage asthma. These medications are not habit-forming and are beneficial to keep asthma under control.
Fact – Although rare, asthma can be fatal
Asthma is a chronic, incurable disease affecting millions of people. If left untreated, the symptoms of asthma can worsen and prove fatal. Also, asthma flare-ups can be life-threatening but are rare. Managing asthma involves understanding and avoiding the triggers of asthma attacks. People with severe asthma should be able to recognize and learn to prevent severe attacks.
Fact – Asthma must be controlled with regular medications prescribed by the physician
Some medications provide quick relief and are taken only during an asthma attack. Because asthma is chronic, long-term asthma control medications may also be prescribed. These medications when taken every day reduce airway inflammation and prevent the occurrence of an attack. However, the treatment will depend on the severity and frequency of attacks.
Fact – Asthma can flare up without wheezing
Wheezing refers to breathing that makes a whistling sound, when air passes through the narrowed airway. This occurs due to the inflammation and constriction of airways, which makes breathing difficult. Wheezing is usually audible but in case of a severe attack, it can only be heard with a stethoscope. When a severe flare-up prevents the movement of air in and out of the lungs, wheezing may not occur.
Fact – Symptoms of asthma may vary with people
Some people may have several symptoms of asthma that include cough, wheezing, and chest tightness, while others may have just one symptom. The symptoms may vary in the same person from one episode to another, and the symptoms may also range from mild to severe. By understanding how asthma affects each person, the condition can be managed better.
It is important to get the right facts on asthma as misconceptions can prevent people from getting appropriate treatment. Asthma can be managed effectively by taking medications as prescribed by the doctor, by following a healthy lifestyle, and watching out for symptoms. With proper management, people with asthma can lead an active, normal, productive, and healthy life.