- Asthma usually leads to permanent damage of the lungs.
TRUE. (if not treated) Asthma can
definitely result in permanent damage to the lungs if it is not properly
diagnosed and treated. Asthma specialists used to believe that asthma was
totally different than emphysema. Recent studies have proven, however,
that if the inflammation within the lungs of asthma patients is not controlled,
then permanent damage may occur.
The best treatment of asthma is an accurate diagnosis. Every patient
with asthma should be seen by an allergy and asthma specialist to determine
the exact causes of the patients' symptoms.
- Children’s asthma is commonly caused by allergy.
TRUE. Allergy is the most common cause of asthma in children. At
age two years and under, allergic reactions to viruses are the most frequent
cause of asthmatic reactions. These children wheeze with viral infections
in the chest. After the age of two years, inhalant aeroallergens from both
indoor and outdoor sources may induce an allergic reaction within the lungs,
which immune reaction is then referred to as asthma.
- A child whose asthma is under control will grow and develop normally.
TRUE. The reverse is also true. Normal growth and development will
not occur if a child has asthma that is poorly controlled. Breathing normally
is very important for normal growth.
- Infections, like colds and sore throats, can start or worsen asthma symptoms.
TRUE. The lungs of patients with asthma are irritable and hyper
responsive. Infections, cold air inhalation, and other irritants to the
lungs may result in asthma symptoms.
- Even if a child with asthma feels fine, wheezing can occur with normal activity such as walking, laughing or climbing stairs.
TRUE. It takes about a 25% drop in your lung function before you
will feel short of breath. This means that even if an asthma patient feels
"fine", the asthma immune reaction within the lungs is still
taking place and must be treated. Many patients benefit from using a meter
called a peak flow meter that can help to alert the asthma patient of the
fact that their lungs are not functioning as good as they could with additional
use of appropriate medicines.
- Asthma tends to run in families.
TRUE. The genetic trait of asthma may occur more commonly within
certain families. It appears that there are at least two genes that help
to produce an asthmatic patient. One gene enhances reactivity within the
bronchial tubes, and yet another one enhances allergy immune reactions.
If you are unfortunate enough to have inherited both of these soon to be
identified genes, then the likelihood of developing ticklish lungs, or
asthma, is high.
- Removing whatever the child is allergic to may help to prevent asthma symptoms.
TRUE. Avoidance is the number one treatment for all allergic disorders.
Fisrt, however, one must accurately identify the offending allergens by
getting to a certified allergy specialist.
- School attendance is a good indicator of severity of asthma.
TRUE. Asthma patients will miss school and work when improperly
diagnosed or when undertreated. Once a patient is placed on the correct
therapy, and actually understands the whys and hows of allergy and asthma,
missed school and work days should become a thing of the past.
- Having an asthma flare at school can make a child more apprehensive about asthma.
TRUE. Children with uncontrolled asthma are very self conscious.
Taking asthma medicines properly often requires patients to inhale weird
looking vapors and sprays into the lungs. This 'attitude thing' can cause
the child to avoid their medicines instead of the allergens which make
them sick. This can usually be overcome with special education sessions
in the allergists office.
- Children with asthma are of similar intelligence to other children.
TRUE. Asthma does not discriminate on the basis of intelligence.
Poor people do, however, have a greater chance to inhale indoor allergens
from cockroach, which is now the number one cause of fatal asthma in low
income communities. Access to specialty care is critical to improving the
health of all asthmatics regardless of intelligence or income.
Also, smart patients get better when they understand their disease and
how the medicines work to better control it.
- Playing games in the rain or on a windy day increases the likelihood of an asthma attack.
TRUE. Playing outside on windy days can increase the chances of
an asthmatic patient having a flare of asthma symptoms, especially during
the outdoor pollen and mold seasons.
Cool air when inhaled can trigger a spasm of the airways and may produce
- About 10% of children have asthma.
TRUE. Estimates are that as many as 10% of children have reactive
airways disease, or asthma. Asthma is the number one cause of school absenteeism
and childhood hospitalization.
- Bronchodilator drugs are effective in immediately reversing asthma symptoms.
TRUE. Bronchodilators open up the constricted airways of asthmatic
patients. The time for the inhaled bronchodilators to become effective
varies between patients, and will depend upon proper inhaler technique.
The common inhaler albuterol will peak after about 20 minutes following
- Some asthma medicines can cause behavior problems.
TRUE. Some medicines that are used to treat asthma a related to
adrenaline, and therefore, some patients will experience a sense of agitation
or restlessness. Children are more sensitive and more difficult to manage
with regard to this stimulant effect, especially since children and young
adults do not always tell it the way it is The general rule in medicine
is that if you are having side effects from a medicine, your body may not
really need the drug.
The most common asthma medicines that cause mood changes are systemic
steroids (prednisone, cortisone) and bronchodilators (isoprel, theophylline).
Ask your doctor what you or your family member should do if you believe
that this side stimulant or mood altering effect is occurring.
- Most asthma attacks can be prevented with the use of appropriate medication.
TRUE. Most asthma attacks can be prevented. Smart patients get
better because they know what their medicines are supposed to do and how
to best use them. The most common error made by asthma sufferers is poor
inhaler technique. Be absolutely certain that you and your children demonstrate
for your doctor the correct use of these important medicines!
- Antibiotics are useful in treating asthma.
TRICKY!! TRUE AND FALSE. Antibiotics are drugs that kill invading
bacteria. Some years ago, we thought that patients commonly experienced
allergic reactions to bacteria. For that reason, asthma flares were always
treated by using antibiotics and other medicines as well.
Today, all allergy and asthma specialists agree that the antibiotics
do not do anything to change the allergic reaction in the lungs.
However, we have learned in the past several years that up to 6 in 10
children who have a flare of asthma also have infections in their sinuses.
So, it is True that antibiotic help to treat the asthmatic patient who
is also experiencing a sinus infection, and it is False to think that antibiotics
are helpful in asthma therapy when there is no bacterial infection to treat.
I have avoided answering the question as to whether bacterial allergy
exists, since this is still poorly understood. Clearly, some rare patients
can be allergic to bacterial products however.
- In general, self-administration of asthma medications by students with asthma is dangerous.
FALSE. Asthma sufferers who have been evaluated and educated by
allergy and asthma specialists may safely use their medicines at school
on their own with little guidance. There should, however, be a coordinated
approach by the teaching staff, the parents and the physician as to what
to do if the asthmatic student is having breathing difficulties.
- Side affects of several asthma drugs include increased heart rate and trembling hands.
TRUE. Asthma therapies commonly use agents which are related chemically
to adrenaline, as discussed above. Trembling and an increased heart rate
may occur, but are rarely troublesome enough to discontinue the medications.
- Inhaled steroids have severe side effects.
FALSE. Steroids are extremely safe and for many asthma patients
an absolute necessity.
Side effects from steroids are dose dependent. The greater the dose
you take, the greater is the risk of experiencing steroid side effects.
Fortunately, inhaled steroid are low enough in concentration that only
rarely will an asthma patient have significant side effects.
It is important to emphasize that inhaled steroids are safe in young
children. Newer inhaled steroids will soon be available in the USA that
are not taken into the body (budesonide). They work and stay within the
lungs. Even so, the inhaled steroids currently available are extremely
safe and effective in controlling the allergic reactions within the lungs
- The best approach to exercise-induced asthma is to treat the symptoms only if they occur.
FALSE. Exercise induced asthma is very common, but asthma should
not hold you back from doing what you want to do. For example, Amy Van
Dyken from Denver, Colorado won 4 Gold Medals at the summer Olympics in
swimming even though she has active asthma.
Bronchodilators and inhale cromolyn sodium are very effective in PREVENTING
asthma symptoms brought on by exercise. Funny thing though, these and other
medicines only work if the patient uses them on time and with proper inhaler
- Full participation in games should be encouraged for children with asthma.
TRUE. Children with undiagnosed asthma may not like to play actively,
as in running sports due to their feeling "clogged up" or feeling
tight in the chest and short of breath.
These are the children that most need our attention since they are beginning
to develop their interest at a young age. Undiagnosed asthmatic kids are
usually bookworms or inactive. What a difference it makes when they can
breath and run at the same time!! Ask your doctor if you think your child
may have shortness of breath with exercise. There are tests available.
- Wheezing or coughing with exercise suggests asthma.
TRUE. If a person wheezes or has a tight chest when exercising
or even when breathing hard, it does suggest the possibility of asthma,
or reactive airways disease.
Many patients are given inhaled bronchodilators to "try" by
their family physicians when they express these complaints to their doctor.
Although the physician means well, this is really not a good idea. The
best treatment can only be given when an exact diagnosis is made.
Patients who have symptoms suggesting asthma should have a breathing
test (lung function studies) before and after exercise to prove that their
symptoms are due to asthma.
Once a diagnosis of asthma is proven by the breathing tests, it is a
good idea to also prove that the medication you are being given actually
works for you. I once had a patient who complained that the inhaler that
I gave to him made him feel worse instead of better. To prove him wrong,
I had him perform breathing tests before and after using his bronchodilator.
You guessed it. The medicine actually did make him close down his lungs!!
This patient taught me two things: first, a physician should listen to
his patients since patients know their bodies better than their doctor
(they spend 24 hours a day with themselves), and secondly, all patients
are unique. What works for one patient may not be as effective for another.
- Children with asthma are generally less competent at physical sports than children without asthma.
FALSE. Children with asthma are otherwise 'normal' kids. Asthma
is an immunologic illness, not a mental condition! It is true that if you
are short of breath that you may become somewhat anxious, but anxiety does
not cause the illness in the first place!
- Taking appropriate medications prior to activity should prevent an asthma attack.
TRUE. This point is emphasized again here because half of the children
with exercise induced asthma forget to take their inhalers 15-30 minutes
prior to exercising. Teenagers sometimes feel sensitive and awkward about
taking their asthma medicines in front of their peers since they want to
be like everyone else. Little do they realize that no one is really like
'every one else'.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about allergy and asthma
by taking this quiz.
If you have questions that were not addressed here, feel free to
ask your own doctor or e-mail me here at AllerNet.com. Please understand
that I may use your questions on our web site for the benefit of others
who may have similar concerns.