8 myths about asthma: expert comments

Bronchial asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases: in the world, according to WHO, at least 300 million people suffer from it. Asthma gathers around itself many myths and judgments, and the most frequent of them were commented by Sergei Babak, professor, MD, a pulmonologist at the Center for Respiratory Medicine.

Asthma is a childhood disease and it often “outgrow”.

And true, and not true

In about 90% of cases, asthma begins in childhood. During the period of maturation of the body, it may not manifest itself in any way, but this does not mean that the disease has receded. At an older age, asthma can again make itself felt in severe pneumonia, severe stress, after childbirth or in the period of extinction of the fertile function in women. Sudden manifestations of asthma at 45–50 years most often mean that a person has been asthmatic since childhood.

Rarely, in about 10% of cases, asthma develops in mature and advanced age – after 65–70 years. Patients accumulate changes in the response of the bronchi to the external environment, which over time can lead to the development of the disease.

There is no asthma without allergies.

Not true

Such a stereotype did not arise by chance: most often asthma does occur on the background of allergies. However, doctors distinguish five clinical phenotypes of bronchial asthma, and only one of them is allergic. For example, asthma that develops in adulthood is not allergic asthma.

Asthma is a psychosomatic illness.

Not true

Asthma is a heterogeneous disease, it can be caused by different effects. It is a significant narrowing of the respiratory tract, which is eliminated spontaneously or under the influence of treatment. Psychosomatic diseases are dealt with by psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists. These doctors do not treat asthma, allergists and pulmonologists work with it.

Asthma is a consequence of frequent colds and undertreated bronchitis.

And true, and not true

With frequent colds, another disease develops – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And asthma often occurs on the background of allergy, which has switched to the bronchi.

In rare cases, frequent and undertreated colds trigger a complex receptor mechanism, and so-called physical stress asthma occurs. In this case, the patient is faced with difficulty breathing and coughing during exercise.

Asthma is a hereditary disease.


Asthma is inherited from next of kin — that is, directly from parents, not through generations. If the parents are asthmatics, then the probability that the child will have the same diagnosis exceeds 90%. Interestingly, this statistic applies mainly to the first child. The second and subsequent children may not have asthma. There is no clear explanation for this phenomenon.

Drugs that must be taken by patients with asthma are addictive, so it’s best to do without them.

Not true

Without medication, asthma treatment is impossible. First, a drug that stops a choking attack, gives asthmatics a sense of security. When such confidence exists, the spasm most likely will not happen, and if it does, the patient will be able to cope with it. Secondly, the medicine for asthma is necessary in order to control the disease and prevent it from increasing in response to external factors.

Asthma drugs are not addictive. They are safe for the patient, do not enter the bloodstream and do not affect the internal organs, because they act locally in the airways, where they are delivered using special devices. This is a very important technological point: the right medicine in the wrong inhaler will have no effect. Inhalers are produced by large global medical companies, such as Philips Respironics, and smaller local manufacturers. Such devices allow you to enter the medicine faster and reduce the time of the procedure.

If the patient uses an inhaler, then asthma treatment is under control.

True and untrue

As the practice of treating asthma shows, it is not enough to develop the active ingredient and put it in an inhaler: the doctor must select the device suitable for the patient and train it to use it.

Inhalers are of several types – the most common are powder and nebulizers. Powder is suitable only for patients who can take a strong breath on their own, otherwise the medicine will settle in the mouth and will not get into the respiratory tract. Therefore, those who cannot control the power of inhalation (weakened, elderly people, children, etc.) need another technology – a nebulizer. It uses liquid medicine, which turns into a cloud of fine particles. For many categories of patients, the nebulizer becomes a priority, and sometimes the only way to take the medicine.

Asthma cannot be cured.

True and untrue

There is a household meaning of the word “cure”, and there is a medical one. In the household sense, to cure is to rid one of the disease forever. This usually concerns acute diseases: colds, pneumonia, etc. – they come and go. But for chronic diseases, this understanding is incorrect.

From a medical point of view, the issue of the treatment of chronic diseases is reduced to the creation of conditions in which the patient is not inferior to a person without the same diagnosis according to his abilities, life expectancy, and life sensations.

In the everyday sense, asthma can not be cured – it will not go anywhere. But from a medical point of view, it is possible to choose a medicine for regular use, which will block the inflammation and prevent asthma attacks. Then the patient can be in any environment, engage in any physical activity along with healthy people.

event_note February 26, 2019

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