You can’t exercise if you have asthma – and other myths you should know

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (April 17, 2019) – May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month – the perfect time to bust some asthma myths that have been around for many years.

“Asthma is a serious condition that affects more than 26 million Americans – more than 8 percent of the population,” says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “One of the biggest dangers with asthma is that so many people who have asthma think it’s well-controlled, when it actually isn’t,” says Dr. Mahr. “When people have good solid information about how to control their asthma and reduce symptoms, they are better able to live the kind of active lives they want.”

Below are five myths from ACAAI, along with the facts you need to know.

  1. You can “outgrow” your asthma – The truth is, there’s no cure for asthma. That said, there are ways to control your asthma and participate in all the activities you enjoy. Asthma doesn’t go away on its own, but your allergist will work with you to identify the things that trigger your asthma and then build a plan to help you avoid and manage those triggers. They may also prescribe medication or, in some cases, allergy immunotherapy.
  2. If you have asthma, you shouldn’t exercise – If you’ve heard of David Beckham, Jackie Joyner Kersee or Jerome Bettis, you know there are elite athletes with asthma. They were all able to compete at either a professional or Olympic level because their asthma was controlled. Exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger and improves your immune system. Some exercises that work particularly well for people with asthma are swimming, walking, hiking, and indoor and outdoor biking.
  3. Steroids used to treat asthma are the same ones athletes use to bulk up – Inhaled steroids used for asthma are not the same as anabolic steroids used to build muscle. The steroids used for the treatment of asthma are anti-inflammatory drugs, not hormones. Nasal steroid sprays are extremely effective, relatively inexpensive and don’t have a lot of side effects. They are available in over-the-counter and prescription forms.
  4. Asthma medications are habit-forming and dangerous – There are many different asthma medications. Some are used regularly to prevent symptoms and others only when you have an asthma flare-up. As with all medications, you must consider the risks and benefits. None of the asthma medications used in the U.S. are habit-forming or addicting. They are not controlled substances. There may be concern with long-term use in children, as these medications can affect how fast a child grows. Available data doesn’t suggest an effect on final adult height, but children whose asthma is not well-controlled need their medications even if they may have decreased growth and be shorter than their peers.
  5. You can stop taking your medications if you feel good – Work with your allergist to determine what medications you should be on, and the dosage. It’s possible you’re feeling well because your controller medications are working. You should not be using quick-relief medications if your asthma is under control. Those should only be used in urgent situations when you’re having trouble breathing or as preparation before you exercise.

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The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.