ARE THESE 5 MYTHS PREVENTING YOU FROM ASTHMA CONTROL?

The Next Breath Editorial Team

October 2019

TIPS & RESOURCES

People living with asthma often overestimate their level of control. That’s why we’ve looked at five common myths about asthma and unpacked the facts.

While asthma is a prevalent condition affecting more than 339 million people worldwide,1 there are many misbeliefs surrounding the disease. With so much information out there, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction! Unfortunately, the consequences of misinformation can be serious, preventing people from seeking the level of care they may need and leading to a misunderstanding of how “good” asthma control should be defined. Let’s debunk common myths about asthma and reveal the truth:

Myth 1: There is only one type of asthma

Fact: There are multiple ways to categorize asthma, including type 2 asthma, allergic asthma, eosinophilic asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and adult-onset asthma to name a few. What’s more, each form has varying degrees of severity.2 The best way to correctly identify which type of asthma you have is with your doctor. Doctors can carry out certain tests to measure biomarkers (measureable indicators of the severity or characteristics of a condition, in this case, asthma type). These tests include a blood test to measure eosinophils (a type of disease-fighting white blood cell) or breathing tests to measure FeNO (fractional exhaled nitric oxide) levels to determine your asthma type.2 By understanding which form of asthma you have, you and your health care team can take the best steps towards effectively controlling your symptoms.

Myth 2: Environmental triggers are the only cause of asthma

Fact: Asthma is caused by both internal and external factors. While external triggers, such as pollen, dust mites and pollution, can trigger inflammation in the airways making it harder to breathe, some forms of asthma, including 50% to 70% of asthma cases, are caused by an underlying overactive immune response known as type 2 inflammation.3,4 This is driven by an imbalance or overactivity of the immune system, which can increase the inflammatory response.5

New science suggests that type 2 inflammation may play a role in other allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis (a reaction caused by an allergen like pollen), nasal polyps (growths in the nose), atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema), and eosinophilic esophagitis (inflammation in the esophagus). Research also suggests this connection explains why many people with severe asthma may also struggle with some of these other conditions.6

Myth 3: Asthma is a mild disease that poses no risk to your life

Fact: Asthma, particularly severe asthma, can have a big impact on daily life and when left uncontrolled, may result in frequent emergency room visits or hospitalizations. While some people have a mild form of asthma, around 5% to 10% of asthma cases are classified as severe.7 Living with severe asthma can affect quality of life by disrupting daily activities and posing the risk of becoming life-threatening if not managed appropriately.8 Having asthma symptoms more than twice a week, regularly coughing and wheezing, and experiencing asthma attacks that may require emergency room visits or hospitalizations could be signs of severe asthma.3,5 It’s important to know that mild asthma can develop into severe asthma over time and at any age.9 Remaining aware of your symptoms, no matter how mild, will help you to stay in control of your asthma.

Myth 4: It is normal to have daily asthma attacks

Fact: Asthma symptoms that disrupt your daily life, such as not being able to work, climb the stairs or sleep through the night, should not be ignored. A factor that can affect asthma management is the tendency to overestimate how well controlled your asthma is. You might dismiss the frequency of your symptoms. If this sounds like you, you are not alone – nearly 80% of people living with asthma overestimate their level of control.10 If you’re experiencing flare-ups more than twice a week or having more than two urgent doctor or hospital visits in a year, it might be time to speak to your doctor and re-consider whether your current action plan is working.2,11

Myth 5: There is nothing you can do to improve your symptoms

Fact: Asthma symptoms can be improved by working with your doctor to identify and address the causes of your asthma.  Everyone’s asthma is personal to them, with symptoms varying even within the same type of asthma.12 It’s important to remember that your triggers and management plan are unique to you. Working together with a doctor to identify these triggers, as well as making a plan to effectively address your symptoms is the first step toward regaining control.10

By debunking these myths, we hope that you’ve been able to reflect on your level of asthma control. Remember, understanding your asthma is key to effectively managing your condition. To learn more, read the Rethink Your Asthma magazine, Understanding Asthma Control, and talk with your doctor about your symptoms today.

References

  1. 1. Global Asthma Network. The Global Asthma Report 2018. Available at: http://www.globalasthmareport.org/burden/burden.php. Accessed July 2019.
  2. 2. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. 2018. Available at: http://ginasthma.org/download/832/. Accessed January 2019.
  3. 3. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Difficult-To-Treat & Severe Asthma in adolescents and adult patients, Diagnosis and Management. 2018. Available at: https://ginasthma.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GINA-SA-FINAL-wms.pdf.Accessed February 2019.
  4. 4. Peters MC, Mekonnen ZK, Yuan S, et al. Measure of gene expression in sputum cells can identify TH2-high and TH2-low subtypes of asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(2):388-394.
  5. 5. Gandhi NA, BL Bennett, NM Graham, et al. Targeting key proximal drivers of type 2 inflammation in disease. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2016;15(1):35-50.
  6. 6. Carr TF, Bleecker E. Asthma heterogeneity and severity. World Allergy Organ J. 2016;9(1):41.
  7. 7. Bülow AV, et al. The Prevalence of Severe Asthma and Low Asthma Control Among Danish Adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;2(6):759-767.
  8. 8. McDonald VM, Hiles SA, Jones KA, Clark VL, Yorke J. Health‐related quality of life burden in severe asthma. Medical Journal of Australia. 2018 Jul;209(S2):S28-33.
  9. 9. Price D, Fletcher M, Van Der Molen T. Asthma control and management in 8,000 European patients: the REcognise Asthma and LInk to Symptoms and Experience (REALISE) survey. NPJ primary care respiratory medicine. 2014 Jun 12;24:14009.
  10. 10. Fletcher M, Hiles D. Continuing discrepancy between patient perception of asthma control and real-world symptoms: a quantitative online survey of 1,083 adults with asthma from the UK. Primary Care Respiratory Journal. 2013 Nov 11;22(4):431.
  11. 11. Sastre J, et al. Insights, attitudes, and perceptions about asthma and its treatment: a multinational survey of patients from Europe and Canada. World Allergy Organization Journal. 2016 Dec;9(1):13.
  12. 12. Emerman CL, et al. Prospective multicenter study of relapse following treatment for acute asthma among adults presenting to the emergency department. Chest. 1999 Apr 1;115(4):919-27.

Date of Approval: August 2019 | SAGLB.AST.19.08.1122

WELCOME TO THE NEXT BREATH BLOG!

The Next Breath Editorial Team

10/3/2019 12:00:00 AM

We’re excited to launch The Next Breath Blog! Learn more about what you’ll read from us.

ARE THESE 5 MYTHS PREVENTING YOU FROM ASTHMA CONTROL?

The Next Breath Editorial Team

10/2/2019 12:00:00 AM

People living with asthma often overestimate their level of control. That’s why we’ve looked at five common myths about asthma and unpacked the facts.

THE A-HA ASTHMA MOMENT THAT HELPED LYNN TAKE BACK CONTROL

The Next Breath Editorial Team

11/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

Lynn talks about the moment when she realized her asthma was uncontrolled and she needed to make a change.

WELCOME TO THE NEXT BREATH BLOG!

The Next Breath Editorial Team

10/3/2019 12:00:00 AM

We’re excited to launch The Next Breath Blog! Learn more about what you’ll read from us.

ARE THESE 5 MYTHS PREVENTING YOU FROM ASTHMA CONTROL?

The Next Breath Editorial Team

10/2/2019 12:00:00 AM

People living with asthma often overestimate their level of control. That’s why we’ve looked at five common myths about asthma and unpacked the facts.

THE A-HA ASTHMA MOMENT THAT HELPED LYNN TAKE BACK CONTROL

The Next Breath Editorial Team

11/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

Lynn talks about the moment when she realized her asthma was uncontrolled and she needed to make a change.

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