Asthma Myths

Medically reviewed by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

These are some of the many faces of asthma. Most researchers believe that the different patterns of asthma are all related to one condition. Other researchers feel that separate lung conditions exist. There is currently no cure for asthma and no single exact cause has been identified. Therefore, understanding the changes that occur in asthma, how it makes you feel, and how it can behave over time is vital. This knowledge empowers you to take an active role in your own health care.

Test your "Asthma IQ" by taking the following true/false quiz:

  1. True or false? Asthma is "all in the mind."

  2. True or false? You will "grow out of it."

  3. True or false? Asthma can be cured, so it is not serious and nobody dies from it.

  4. True or false? You are likely to develop asthma if someone in your family has it.

  5. True or false? You can "catch" asthma from someone else who has it.

  6. True or false? Moving to a different location, such as the desert, can cure asthma.

  7. True or false? People with asthma should not exercise.

  8. True or false? Asthma does not require medical treatment.

  9. True or false? Medications used to treat asthma are habit-forming.

  10. True or false? Someone with asthma can provoke episodes anytime they want in order to get attention.

Here are the answers:

  1. False: Asthma is not a psychological condition. However, emotional triggers can cause flare-ups.

  2. False: You cannot outgrow asthma. In about 50% of children with asthma, the condition may become inactive in the teenage years. The symptoms, however, may reoccur at anytime in adulthood.

  3. False: There is no cure for asthma, but the disease can be controlled in most patients with good medical care. The condition should be taken seriously since uncontrolled asthma may result in emergency hospitalization and possible death.

  4. True: You have a 6% chance of having asthma if neither parent has the condition; a 30% chance if one parent has it; and a 70% chance if both parents have it.

  5. False: Asthma is not contagious.

  6. False: A new environment may temporarily improve asthma symptoms, but it will not cure asthma. After a few years in the new location, many persons become sensitized to the new environment and the asthma symptoms return with the same or even greater intensity than before.

  7. False: Swimming is an optimal exercise for those with asthma. On the other hand, exercising in dry, cold air, may be a trigger for asthma in some people.

  8. False: Asthma is best controlled by having an asthma management plan designed by your doctor that includes the medications used for quick relief and those used as controllers.

  9. False: Asthma medications are not addictive.

  10. False: Asthma attacks cannot be faked.

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Last Editorial Review: 12/11/2008