Confused by some of the answers in our “Asthma: Fact or Fiction” quiz or want to find out more? We’re here to clear things up! You’ll find in this list the questions that were displayed in our quiz, their corresponding answers, and why these answers are so.
- Asthma only affects children.
Fiction. Asthma can develop at any age – this includes adults and the elderly. The prevalance of asthma ranges between 3% to 5% in developing countries to more than 20% in developed countries. In the United Kingdom, about 5.4 million people of all ages currently receive treatment for asthma. While childhood asthma is more common in males, this trend reverses in adolescence and adulthood when asthma becomes more common in females than in males. Asthma that first develops in adulthood tends to be a long-term condition.
- Everyone will outgrow childhood asthma.
Fiction. Children with more severe asthma are less likely to “outgrow” and recover from it as they get older. The likelihood of children outgrowing their asthma is affected by how persistent their wheezing is and their history of allergies. However, other children with less severe asthma may have symptoms that spontaneously remit later in life, or have asthma that comes and goes every few years. Studies show that in about half of the children whose symptoms decrease during adolescence, symptoms return in their 30s or 40s. These symptoms could also be caused by triggers different from those experienced during childhood.
- Asthmatics can be athletes too.
Fact. In fact, several famous athletes including David Beckham, Paula Radcliffe, and Greg Louganis, have asthma. However, they have managed their conditions carefully and persevered to accomplish all that they set out to achieve.
Peter Vanderkaay, an Olympic swimmer who won a gold medal together with Michael Phelps in 2008, was diagnosed with exercise-induced bronchospasm after he began experiencing asthmatic symptoms at age 10. He once shared in an interview, “I remember being a little bit worried, early on, that I wouldn’t be able to keep swimming. But once I found the right long-term action plan, I was able to get where I am today. My doctor, parents, and I worked as a team so that I could continue training. And when I got to a higher level of competition in college, I realized that a lot of athletes have asthma, and it’s something they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s not something that has held me back, at all.”
- Athletes use illegal corticosteroids (asthma medication) to perform better.
Fiction. Corticosteroids are taken as an inhaler or a pill to reduce inflammation in the body. These are distinct from illegal anabolic steroids that are known to enhance performance during sports competitions, for example, by improving strength and stamina.
Athletes are also required to declare any medication to anti-doping authorities and adhere to anti-doping regulations aimed at keeping sports competitions fair for everyone. The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes of different nationalities with information on medications that are prohibited from various sporting competitions. Thus, any asthma medication that is taken during the competition has been approved beforehand.
- Corticosteroids will stunt a child’s growth.
Fiction. Corticosteroid inhalers are commonly prescribed to asthmatic children to relieve symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. Previous research had suggested that long term use of this medication could result in half an inch of loss in height in the first year of use. However, new research shows that stunted growth is only temporary and children are likely to reach normal height by adulthood. This finding has been substantiated by two recent studies conducted in the United States and in Denmark.
There is no known reason as of yet to explain why corticosteroids have such an effect (albeit temporary) on growth. Nonetheless, Claude Lenfant, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, suggests that the benefits of corticosteroids in “improving the ability of a child with asthma to be active at play and school, to sleep through the night, and to stay away from the hospital” outweighs the slight initial impact on height.
- The severity of asthma varies from person to person.
Fact. Asthma varies in severity and can be categorised into four different types: mild intermittent asthma, mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, and severe persistent asthma.
Mild intermittent asthma means that symptoms appear up to two days per week. Nighttime symptoms occur up to twice per month. This form of asthma typically does not require daily medication and is usually treated with a rescue inhaler if necessary. However, this may be adjusted based on the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms.
In mild persistent asthma, symptoms occur more than twice a week, but not more than once in a single day. An inhaled corticosteroid may be prescribed for daily use.
Moderate persistent asthma involves symptoms that appear once a day and more than one night a week. This category of asthma usually calls for a higher dosage of inhaled corticosteroids in addition to a rescue inhaler and allergy medications. Oral corticosteroids may be considered for those over the age of 5.
A person with severe persistent asthma would have symptoms throughout the day on most days and more frequently at night. They may not respond well to medications and may have to try different medication combinations and dosages to see what works best.
- Asthma is not affected by a person’s emotional state.
Fiction. Asthma can be triggered by a person’s emotions, including love, excitement, and anger. Such emotions may change the way people breathe – they may breathe more rapidly or take short breaths through their mouths – which may introduce cold air to the airways. This sudden change in temperatures could trigger asthma symptoms in some. In the same way, laughing and crying uncontrollably can also trigger asthma symptoms and lead to an attack. Children, who react quickly to events around them and are easily excitable, are more likely to have their asthma triggered by strong emotions.
- All asthmatics require daily asthma medication.
Fiction. An individual’s treatment plan depends on the severity and frequency of their asthma symptoms. This plan also takes into account any allergies that a person may have. For those with mild intermittent asthma, they may not typically require daily medication. However, they will usually be prescribed a rescue inhaler to treat any symptoms that may appear from time to time. For people with more severe asthma, oral corticosteroids as well as other medications targeted at triggers may be required.
- Even after symptoms subside, asthmatics must still continue to take their medicine.
Fact. Every person with asthma should have an asthma action plan that has been agreed on by their doctor. This plan includes the use of prescribed asthma medication and is adjusted based on the severity and frequency of their symptoms. An asthma action plan has 2 main goals: to relieve immediate symptoms, and to prevent future symptoms and attacks. Therefore, even after symptoms subside, it is important to strictly follow the asthma action plan as prescribed to avoid the risk of triggering symptoms again.
- Asthma is not affected by smoking.
Fiction. People with asthma can be affected by cigarette smoke even if they don’t actually smoke. Secondhand smoke can be inhaled when someone else in the vicinity smokes a cigarette. Thirdhand smoke is residue from a cigarette which can adhere to surfaces for a long time. The residue reacts with air pollutants, producing small, harmful particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. In both cases, these substances can be triggers for asthma symptoms.
We hope you enjoyed the quiz and found it illuminating! Misconceptions about asthma are rife and differing expectations toward asthma and asthma treatment may be detrimental to the asthma patient or caregiver. Share this quiz and article with friends and family, so that everyone can be well-informed and be on the same page!
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Avoiding Tobacco Smoke Is a Key Part of Asthma Prevention. 2017. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://community.aafa.org/blog/avoiding-tobacco-secondhand-thirdhand-smoke-is-a-key-part-of-asthma-prevention
Asthma UK. Emotions. 2016. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/emotions/
Holland, Kimberly, Santoro, Elizabeth. Accomplished Athletes Who Have Asthma. 2017. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/famous-athletes-with-asthma#1
Li, James T. C. Do some children outgrow asthma? 8 February 2017. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-asthma/expert-answers/outgrow-asthma/faq-20058116
MacKay, Kerri. Asthma and Exercise: Elite Athletes with Asthma: Anti-Doping and Fair Play. 14 April 2016. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://asthma.net/living/exercise-elite-athletes-anti-doping-and-fair-play/
MacMillan, Amanda. Olympic Swimmer Discusses Life With Exercise-Induced Asthma. 23 April 2013. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20411290,00.html
NHS Inform. Asthma. 2018. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/lungs-and-airways/asthma
Robinson, Kara Mayer. Can Kids Outgrow Asthma? 2013. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.webmd.com/asthma/features/can-kids-outgrow-asthma
Schorr, Melissa. Study: Asthma Drugs Do Not Stunt Growth. 11 October 2000. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117903&page=1
ScienceDirect. Asthma Prevalence. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/asthma-prevalence
Wells, Diana K. Asthma Classification. 2017. Electronic. 19 December 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/asthma/asthma-classification