More than 25 million people across the U.S. live with asthma. While there is no cure, people can manage their asthma to prevent flare-ups (also known as attacks or episodes) and live well. Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases but also one of the most misunderstood. May is Asthma Awareness Month, and we want to share some common myths about this disease.
Myth: Asthma is a childhood disease.
While asthma does occur often in kids, adults can develop asthma at any age. In fact, changing hormone levels, allergies, or even illness can cause asthma.
Unfortunately, when many adults start to experience changes in their breathing or can’t keep up like they once did, they assume they’re out of shape or it’s a normal part of aging. Women are at an even greater risk for severe asthma as adults than men.
Remember: it’s important to talk to your health care provider about any changes in your breathing.
Myth: Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are the only symptoms of asthma.
These symptoms are common with asthma, but there are other less-commonly known symptoms that may be early asthma warning signs.
- Itchy chin or throat
- Watery eyes
- Dark circles under eyes
- Stomach ache: for some children it is hard for them to identify where their pain is coming from so when they say their stomach hurts, in reality it may be hard for them to breathe
Sometimes these warning signs may be mistaken for other things like allergies or colds. It’s important to recognize that these changes may be a sign that someone’s asthma is worsening.
Myth: If you live with asthma, you should not exercise.
People who have their asthma well-controlled should be able to continue doing things they enjoy, like exercise.
Proper asthma management includes:
- Avoiding triggers
- Knowing your signs and symptoms of an asthma flare-up
- Maintaining your supply of asthma medications and carrying it with you as necessary
- Having an asthma action plan that lists specific steps you should take to prevent or handle an asthma episode