Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have a question about asthma? So do many other people. Find answers here.
InteliHealth/Harvard Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is asthma a kind of allergy?

It is for many people. When people with allergic asthma breathe in house dust, pollen, mold or whatever kind of particle they are allergic to, their immune systems go into overdrive. The resulting inflammation causes the air tubes in the lungs to tighten, leading to breathing difficulty.

Do asthma patients need to use an inhaler every day?

Asthma patients may need to take a controller (a drug delivered through an inhaler or taken by mouth) every day, even when they aren't having symptoms. The controller can ease or control the inflammation that causes asthma attacks. By limiting inflammation, the controller keeps the airways free of mucus and keeps them relaxed and open, so breathing is normal.

Can children with asthma "grow out" of this condition?

"Growing out" of asthma is something of a misconception. If you have asthma as a child, you will probably have it as an adult, too. That's not to say it will always be as active or as severe. Some people have fewer symptoms as adults than they did as children, and they find that the asthma triggers of their youth no longer set off asthma in adulthood. However, the tendency for the immune system in the lungs to overreact to irritants or triggers can continue in adulthood. It is possible to have no asthma attacks for years and then be surprised by out-of-the blue asthma symptoms, possibly resulting from brand new triggers.

Should children with asthma avoid gym class and sports?

On days when your child is having an asthma flare-up, or even milder symptoms, taking it easy is probably the best strategy. But for a child who is not having symptoms, exercise will help keep his or her lungs healthy and functioning well. If your child has exercise-induced asthma, make sure that your child and the adults or coaches who supervise him or her know about your child's drug regimen. For example, explain when and how your child should use asthma drugs, as well as the asthma-controlling steps your child should take before and after exercise. Although short-acting inhalers such as albuterol are usually used as "rescue" or "reliever" inhalers after symptoms begin, it is appropriate for most people with exercise-induced asthma to use this short-acting inhaler right before exercise. This way, exercise can occur without asthma symptoms.

How can asthma affect pregnancy?

If you have asthma, the key to having a healthy pregnancy is to keep your asthma symptoms under control. When asthma symptoms are not well controlled, your baby may not get enough oxygen, increasing the chances of premature birth, lower birth weight and death. Women with poorly controlled asthma are more likely to have preeclampsia — an increase in blood pressure that is linked to potentially serious complications toward the end of the pregnancy.
Your health care professional will recommend that you continue using the drugs that best control your asthma. Fortunately, most asthma drugs are safe for both mother and baby. To play it safe, your health-care provider will try to limit your doses to the lowest amount necessary to control your symptoms.




Last updated July 30, 2014

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