5 common asthma myths debunked

Facts | 14/09/2023
5 common asthma myths debunked
Asthma is a common respiratory condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It is a chronic inflammation of the airways, causing them to be sensitive and narrower. When it is not well managed, it can lead to breathing difficulties.

Although it is a common condition, asthma, like many others, is often misunderstood. With an abundance of information available on the internet, it can be difficult to know what information is correct. In this article you’ll learn about some of the most common myths & misconceptions surrounding asthma, to help you differentiate fact from fiction. 

Myth ‘Asthma is a childhood condition’ 

Fact: Although asthma does affect children, the idea that it is a childhood condition is false. Asthma can affect anyone at any age. Some people may have been diagnosed in childhood and find that their asthma comes back after a long period of no symptoms later in life. Others may not be diagnosed until later in life, known as late-onset asthma. This can be faced by anyone but is more common in women to whom it often happens around the time of menopause.  

Myth ‘Asthma is just a bit of trouble breathing, it’s not serious’ 

Fact: Asthma is caused by chronic inflammation of the airways and it can range from mild to severe. As well as making breathing difficult, it can cause a range of other symptoms including wheezing, chest tightness and persistent coughing. Occasionally, these symptoms can worsen suddenly and lead to an asthma attack, which can be life-threatening. It is important to treat asthma with regular preventative treatment to avoid likelihood of attacks.’   

Myth ‘People with asthma shouldn’t exercise’ 

Fact ‘This is untrue - having an active lifestyle and regular exercise is an important part of asthma care, needed in addition to the regular maintenance treatment. If asthma symptoms are worsened during exercise, it may help to warm up properly before starting. You may also wish to consult your physician, as sometimes symptoms in exercise tell you that asthma is not being controlled well enough and the treatment should be assessed. 

Myth ‘Asthma can be managed with a healthy lifestyle alone’ 

Fact ‘It’s important that asthma is managed using a treatment prescribed by a doctor. The most common treatments are delivered via asthma inhalers, which help get the medicine into the airways. Some people may also require additional medicines if their symptoms can’t be managed by the use of an inhaler. A healthy diet also plays and important role in the management of asthma symptoms. For example, fresh fruits & vegetables high in antioxidants may help to improve lung health. Being overweight can also exacerbate symptoms, so eating healthily to lose weight may also help in symptom management.’ 

Myth ‘A reliever inhaler is enough to treat my asthma symptoms’ 

Fact ‘A reliever inhaler can be used as needed to help to treat symptoms of asthma quickly when they come on, but it only brings short-term relief. It’s important to use a controller inhaler which contains steroid medicine to control inflammation and swelling in the airways. Using this type of treatment can provide more longer-term protection and helps to ensure symptoms are being managed correctly.’ 

Despite asthma being a chronic condition, it can in most cases be controlled by using medications as prescribed, and almost all of those living with asthma can live a normal life. Knowing the correct facts about asthma is very important, and recognizing the symptoms of an attack could help to save someone’s life. If you, a family member, or friend are experiencing symptoms associated with asthma, such as breathlessness, it’s important to visit a doctor to get checked.  



  1. World Health Organization | Asthma Asthma (who.int) (Accessed May 2023) 
  1. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Global strategy for asthma management and prevention 2023. https://ginasthma.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/GINA-2023-Full-Report-2023-WMS.pdf  (Accessed May 2023) 


Date of preparation: September 2023 / EASYH-3421


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