Myth: It’s better to ‘tough it out’ without taking asthma medication
The lungs do not get stronger or become better able to deal with asthma if a person tries to work through an attack without medication. In fact, the lung inflammation that goes along with an attack (see what is asthma) can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Always use medication according to the Asthma Action Plan. If you have questions, talk with your health care provider.
Myth: Asthma pumps are dangerous
The corticosteroids in controller medicines used to control asthma are not the same as the often illegal steroids used by some athletes, and have no effect on muscles or athletic performance. They are related to the steroids found in creams to reduce itch or inflammation of the skin. Many scientific studies have shown asthma medications to be safe over long periods of use.
Reliever medication used a lot can cause your heart to beat faster. Asthma pumps do not weaken the heart. Asthma pumps are not addictive. But if you don’t take your controller regularly and just rely on a reliever, you may find your reliever pump starts to work less.
Myth: If my asthma medication is not helping, I need to increase my dose
The controller (corticosteroid) asthma medication must be used every day before it will work well. Asthma devices are often also difficult to use. Even with the best technique possible, only a small amount of the medication gets into the lungs. Most problems with asthma are not because the person has been prescribed the wrong medication but because they are not using them as often as they should or with the best possible technique. Your controller medication should be taken every day, whether you have symptoms or not, to reduce the inflammation in the lungs. If you do this properly, symptoms will go away and you won’t have to use your reliever pump at all.
It is hard to use inhaled asthma medicines with the best possible technique. There are lots of different devices and there are different techniques for each one! Also, as children get older, the device they use or the techniques they are using for their pumps might change. That’s why it is important to bring all your pumps and medicines with you to your every visit ….so your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can explain to you what type of medicine it is, and check whether your technique in using it is good enough (see how to use your asthma device).
Myth: Everybody’s asthma is the same
Asthma severity can vary greatly from one person to another. Treatment for one person may not be the same as another. Talk with your health care provider or refer to your Asthma Action Plan, and never share asthma medications with someone else.
Myth: Sports and physical activity make asthma worse
Physical activity, and the conditioning that comes with it, should be part of everyone’s life, including those with asthma. Asthma should not interfere with physical activity. If you are having problems with exercise it means your asthma is not well controlled and you will need to see your doctor to check you are taking the right medications, every day and with the best possible technique. Some famous South African sports- people have asthma, such as Schalk Burger and Roland Schoeman.
Myth: Asthma is an emotional illness
Asthma is caused by inflammation and constriction in the lungs. It is stressful to have an asthma attack, but emotions do not cause asthma.
Myth: Asthma can be treated with alternative medicines
Asthma is caused by inflammation in the lungs. No alternative, folk or traditional medicines can treat inflammation. If you do feel that alternative medicines help your asthma, keep on using your controller pumps as well, to make sure that the inflammation doesn’t come back.