World Asthma Day: Common Myths About Asthma

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Fluticasone propionate metered dose inhaler commonly used for long-term control (Image by James Heilman, MD - taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asthma)

By Arret Jatta

World Asthma Day 2024 was observed on May 7. The annual event is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. World Asthma Day is held on the first Tuesday in May, with this year’s theme: “Asthma Education Empowers.”

In line with the theme, GINA emphasizes the need to empower people with asthma with the appropriate education to manage their disease, and to recognize when to seek medical help.

Health care professionals are called upon to increase their awareness of the continuing avoidable morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) from asthma, and the published evidence on effective management of asthma, so they are equipped to provide reliable information and optimal treatment for their patients.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease affecting people of all ages. It is caused by inflammation and muscle tightening around the airways, which makes it harder to breathe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In The Gambia, the Day passed with very little activity save for a newspaper article published here, and an explainer published here on “Common Myths About Asthma in The Gambia.”

Asthma symptoms illnesses infographics. Image taken from Image by macrovector on Freepik

Myths Associated with Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common chronic non-communicable diseases that affects over 260 million people and is responsible for over 450,000 deaths each year worldwide, most of which are preventable, according to GINA.

People without expert knowledge come up with myths about asthma and this is not only misleading, it can cause a serious health problem.

Myths are widely held but false beliefs or ideas. On World Asthma Day, the Permian Health Lung Institute, an advocacy and research center for lung health, published the following:

Dispelling the Myths: Understanding Asthma on World Asthma Day

  1. Myth: Asthma is not a serious health condition.

Fact: Asthma is a serious respiratory condition that can have life-threatening consequences if not properly managed. It can also greatly impact daily activities and quality of life.

  1. Myth: Asthma can be cured.

Fact: There is no known cure for asthma, however it can be effectively controlled with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes. With the right medication and management plan, most individuals can live well with asthma.

  1. Myth: People with asthma should avoid physical activity and exercise.

Fact: Regular physical activity and exercise can actually benefit lung function and overall health in people with asthma. It is important to work with healthcare professionals to develop a safe and effective exercise plan tailored to individual needs.

  1. Myth: Asthma is a childhood condition that is outgrown as people age.

Fact: While some children may outgrow asthma or have decreased symptoms in adulthood, asthma can develop at any age and persist throughout life. It is essential for individuals to continue managing their asthma as they grow older.

  1. Myth: Asthma medications are addictive and should be avoided.

Fact: Asthma medications are not addictive. They assist in managing and preventing asthma symptoms by minimizing inflammation and widening the airways. It is important for those with asthma to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for taking their medication, even if they are not currently experiencing symptoms. Suddenly stopping asthma medications can result in serious health problems.

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