According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 25 million people suffer from asthma. What’s even more startling is the fact that African Americans are three times more likely than any other racial group to die from the disease due to factors such as genetics, socioeconomic status, health maintenance behaviors, air quality and obesity. In an effort to help bridge the disparity gap, here are some of the biggest misconceptions about asthma.
1. Asthma can be cured.
Despite many great advances in treatments over the years, there are currently no cures for asthma. The good news, however, is that with the appropriate diagnosis and proper treatment, most people with asthma can lead normal, active lives.
2. It’s normal to use your blue reliever inhaler at least once a day.
If you find yourself having to use your inhaler on a regular basis, we hate to break it to you, but your asthma is not under control. If you’re on a preventer medication, be sure to take it every day, or perhaps it’s time to increase your dose. Needing to use your reliever frequently is a strong indicator that you could soon suffer an asthma attack, which can be life-threatening, so see your doctor right away!
3. People with asthma shouldn’t own pets.
Plenty of people with asthma have pets in their homes. Some can be more of a trigger than others; cats and dogs tend to cause the most issues. For many though, a reaction only occurs when getting in close contact with animals, but each individual’s response will differ, of course. Find out what works best for you!
4. Avoiding milk improves asthma.
Despite what you might’ve heard, diet plays a minimal role in the management of asthma symptoms. Scientific studies have shown that milk doesn’t increase mucus production or worsen asthma, so unless you have a food allergy, avoidance of any food group isn’t necessary or recommended.
5. Asthma medicines are addictive.
While it’s true that people with asthma often take the same medications for a long period of time, it’s not because they’re addicted to any of them. Asthma is a chronic disease that requires the long-term use of medicine to manage the symptoms and prevent asthma attacks.
6. People can usually outgrow asthma.
This is highly unlikely. Once you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, it becomes a life-long issue. Sure, it may go into hibernation from time to time, but it’s always there.
7. Inhaled steroids are dangerous.
Not true at all! Inhaled steroids are typically used for people with moderate to severe asthma. Many people confuse them with anabolic steroids that you hear about in sports, but they’re very different. Inhaled steroids, on the other hand, are a safe, effective and non-addictive way to prevent asthma attacks.
8. Moving to a dry climate can improve asthma.
Yes, a change in your environment can temporarily improve asthma symptoms, but it won’t cure the disease. Unfortunately, most triggers can be found wherever you go. In fact, many people find that after relocating to a new environment, they develop new allergies.
9. It’s OK to stop taking prescribed medications if asthma symptoms subside.
Unless you’ve been instructed to do so by your doctor, you should never stop taking your medication even when you feel great. The reason why you aren’t experiencing any symptoms or issues is because your medicine is doing its job! Additionally, by taking your medicine every day, your lungs will become stronger and more prepared when you’re exposed to your asthma triggers.
10. People with asthma shouldn’t exercise or play sports.
Physical activity is essential for asthmatics and can improve lung function, making you less winded. You may need to take medication before participating in rigorous activities, but with proper training, you’re free to exercise and play sports just like everyone else!
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Asthma center for more articles.
Princess Gabbara is a 20-something Michigan-based journalist/freelance writer. As a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, she’s contributed to a host of several local and national publications, including Ebony.com, Essence.com, xoJane.com, Clutch Magazine, Sesi Magazine and The Glamazons Blog. When she’s not busy pounding away at the keyboard, you can find her somewhere shopping, obsessing over the latest nail polish collections, hanging out with the family, listening to music on vinyl, being a typical Leo, and laughing until it hurts. You can read more of her work on her blog: www.princessgabbara.wordpress.com. She also tweets at @PrincessGabbara.