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5 Common FAQs About Asthma

a woman getting her throat inspected by an ENT doctor

Asthma is a common lung condition, which can affect your breathing. If you have questions about asthma, or you think you or your child might have symptoms, it’s wise to see a doctor. For more information about asthma, here are some FAQs:

Five common FAQs about asthma

1. What exactly is asthma?

Asthma is a lung condition, which can contribute to breathing difficulties. In many cases, asthma symptoms appear during childhood, but it is possible for adults to develop asthma. The most common symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing

Asthma can affect people in different ways, and some people have more severe symptoms than others. Some children who have asthma find that their symptoms become much milder as they get older. For many, asthma is a mild condition, but it can cause serious, life-threatening complications. This is why it is critical for those who have symptoms to see their doctor on a regular basis. Once asthma has been diagnosed, doctors will review symptoms and analyze the efficacy of treatments periodically. 

2. What causes asthma?

Asthma symptoms develop when the breathing tubes that transport air into and out of the lungs narrow and become sensitive. The exact cause of asthma is unknown, but there are several risk factors that elevate the chances of developing asthma. These include:

  • Family history of asthma and allergies
  • Smoking
  • Smoking during pregnancy 
  • Premature birth

There are multiple triggers, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms, but not everyone will respond to the same triggers. Some of the most common causes of asthma flare-ups include:

  • Pollen and hay fever
  • Infections, including coughs and colds
  • Exposure to dust
  • Pets
  • Mold

3. Is there a cure for asthma?

There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are effective treatments and therapies that can be used to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. The treatment methods that are recommended to you by your doctor will usually depend on the severity of your symptoms and the types of triggers you experience. Asthma can often be controlled and managed using inhalers, which can treat and prevent asthma symptoms. There are also several things you can do to try and minimize the risk of an asthma attack or the onset of severe symptoms, for example, avoiding smoking, reducing exposure to dust at home and treating allergies. Up to 80% of people who have asthma also have hay fever, so taking antihistamine medication can be beneficial. 

4. Can I exercise and play sports if I have asthma?

Many people who have asthma enjoy playing sports, and they want to be able to stay active. Physical activity can be beneficial for those who have asthma, but it’s critical to make sure you listen to the advice provided by your doctor. There are some activities that may be better suited to you than others, and if your symptoms have flared up, it might be best to take it easy until you feel better.

The impact will often depend on the severity of the case. Mild asthma shouldn’t affect your ability to keep fit and work out, but if you’re prone to more severe symptoms, consult your doctor before you start a training program or undertake a physical challenge. Working with a personal trainer who has experience in training individuals with asthma is an excellent idea if you do want to be more active.

5. Do asthma treatments cause side-effects?

If you have been advised to consider starting treatment for asthma, it’s natural to want to know about side-effects. Every medication carries a risk of side-effects, but your doctor will only recommend treatments where the benefits outweigh the risks. Your doctor will talk to you about the potential side-effects before you start treatment, and you can ask as many questions as you like.

Some side-effects are more common than others, and most tend to be mild. If you’re using an inhaler to manage or prevent symptoms, you might find that your heart rate increases slightly or you feel slightly shaky for a short period of time. These effects are short-lived, and most people find that it doesn’t take long to get used to taking their medication.

Asthma is a common lung condition, which is often diagnosed in children. While some people will improve as they get older, there are adults who experience severe symptoms. Asthma can be managed effectively using medication, and avoiding triggers is also beneficial. While many cases are mild, there is a risk of severe complications, and in extreme cases, asthma can be fatal. If you have any concerns or questions about asthma, it’s important to see your doctor.