Frequently asked questions about Asthma

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Can asthma be cured?

Asthma is a chronic disease and does not have a definitive cure. The treatment, in the majority of cases, can control it and allows leading a normal life, without limitations.

If I have asthma, will my children also have it?

Asthma has a genetic component, but this does not mean that it has to be passed on from parents to children in all cases. The development of asthma, as well as the genetic predisposition, depends on development factors and environment factors.

Is asthma only a childhood disease?

Although asthma is very common in the child population, it can present at any age.

If I have an allergy, does it mean that I have asthma?

Not necessarily. Having an allergy is a risk factor for developing asthma. However, there are many allergic individuals that do not have asthma, and many asthmatic individuals that are not allergic.

Can I practice sport if I have asthma?

Yes. Physical exercise is recommended for patients with asthma provided that it is controlled. In asthma induced by exercise, it is advised to take a rapid-acting bronchodilator 10-15 minutes before starting the activity and practicing sport in places free of environmental contamination.

Can I travel with asthma?

Yes. Provided that the asthma is well-controlled. Remember to take sufficient medication for the journey and carry an action plan in case the asthma symptoms get worse.

If I feel fine, can I stop taking the treatment?

You must never stop the treatment on your own initiative without the previous recommendation by the doctor. Stopping the treatment can trigger an asthma attack.

Can inhaled corticosteroids make me put on weight?

The corticosteroids taken by the inhaled route act at local level, in the airways, and the effect that they have on the rest of the body is minimal. Thus, you must not be afraid of putting on weight.

What must I do before performing spirometry?

You must follow the recommendations of the centre where it is going to be performed. You must not smoke before performing it and, in general, do not take bronchodilator treatment prior to the test.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a set of recommendations and strategies given to you by the doctor, in writing, in order to adjust the medication in case the symptoms get worse, and to avoid suffering an asthma attack.

Can I die from an asthma attack?

Yes. The severity of an asthma attack can vary widely and can even improve with treatment at home. But, occasionally, the attack may be severe, develop with great rapidity and put the life of the patient at risk. For this reason, it is very important to know the warning signs and follow the action plan.

What is the most important drug for asthma?

The inhaled glucocorticoids are the cornerstone of the treatment, being used to prevent attacks and control the asthma symptoms. They are drugs that have radically changed the natural course of the disease.

What happens if I am pregnant and have asthma?

You must not stop the treatment. One-third of pregnant women with asthma can get worse during pregnancy. You must consult the doctor and have frequent check-ups. If you are well-controlled, the risk for you and your baby is very low.

If I change home, will the asthma improve?

That depends on whether you have an allergy. For example, if you have an allergy to dust mites and you change residence to high areas that are not humid, you will probably improve. But each case is variable.

What are the symptoms of uncontrolled asthma?

There is an increase in the frequency in the symptoms, such as cough, hearing whistles, tightness in the chest, or shortness of breath on making any effort. Sometimes, the symptoms can get worse at night.

Can inhaled treatment for asthma lead to addiction?

No, it is a mistaken belief. It does not have any mechanism to create dependency in patients.

Of what does the vaccination for allergies consist?

The treatment consists of administering, step by step, the substances to which you are allergic. The treatment last around 3-5 years and can improve and almost cure the allergies.

Can I take anti-inflammatory medicines if I have asthma?

Some asthmatic patients are intolerant to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, which can trigger an asthma attack. But, the majority of patients tolerate them well. Consult your doctor if you need them.

What happens if I do not quit smoking?

It is likely that you will have poor control of the disease and, also, you could increase the risk of suffering a respiratory disease that affects the bronchi, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). 

How do bronchodilator work?

As its name suggests, the bronchodilators dilate the bronchi on relaxing the muscle that surround them, which reduces the obstruction and helps the breathing.

Substantiated information by:
Irina BoboleaAllergist — Pneumology and Allergy DepartmentRosa CortésNurse — Pneumology and Allergy DepartmentAlejandra LópezPulmonologist — Pneumology and Allergy DepartmentAntonio Luís ValeroAllergist — Pneumology and Allergy Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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