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Frequently asked questions about Asthma

Got a question about asthma? Check out Frequently asked Questions section for some of the frequently asked questions about asthma.

Can I die because of Asthma?

Yes, asthma can result in death. To tell you in figures about 1600 deaths in UK is caused by asthma. A majority of these deaths are seen in elderly people but about one third of these occur in people under 65. In youngsters and children these deaths are about 30 per year.

Is asthma inherited?

As per the research the tendency to have asthma is inherited and then something needs to convert it to the actual condition. The ‘something’ is a mysterious word as it could be a viral infection or allergies or some working conditions. Now there is also a possibility that the one has the tendency to get asthma but does not get it even after having encountered the condition a number of times.

What are the chances of a baby I might have in future developing asthma?

There is a greater chance of having a child with asthma if you or any of your close relatives already have asthma. It is also more likely if you or your husband are atopic. Being atopic can also lead to conditions like asthma, eczema, hay fever, in a condition where both the parents are atopic the chances of the baby inheriting such a condition is one out of two. What is atopy? It is an inherited tendency that makes people more likely to develop an allergic disorder. A person with such a condition has the ability to produce the allergy antibody called immunoglobulin E, IgE. A test called the skin prick testing is carried out to diagnose if the person is atopic.

Do I become dependent on the inhalers if I take it regularly?

For asthma treatment the inhalers prescribed can be categorized into two relievers and the preventers. The reliever inhalers are taken as and when required rather than regularly. Now the need or the requirement may vary from patient to patient, hence the dosage may vary from 4-6 times a day. The reason for this may be that you rely on the inhaler to give you relief from asthma symptoms. This may bring a feeling that you are becoming dependent on the inhaler. The preventer on the other hand does not give the patient immediate relief so you tend to take them regularly which does not make you feel you are being dependent on the inhaler. This is basically used to keep asthma in control. The drugs prescribed for the asthma treatment may make you feel you are getting dependent on them but you may not get addicted to these drugs.

Should I discontinue have my medication if I feel better?

No, you should not discontinue the usage of the medication because in such a case the chance of getting a severe asthma attack is high. Moreover your body is getting the desired medication to keep you feel better ie the lungs to function normally.

How might asthma affect my lifestyle?

Some people might have to change a part of their lifestyle because of asthma. There can be certain triggers of asthma that might worsen asthma and to keep your asthma in control you need to change your life style in certain manner. Many a times the trigger is evident like your symptoms getting worse within minutes of your coming in contact with your pet (cat,dog) or pollen. Some people may also have a delayed reaction. By avoiding the triggers that make your asthma symptoms worse and by taking your asthma medicines correctly, you can reduce your asthma symptoms and continue leading your normal lifestyle.

Are steroids safe for me to take?

There are certain cases, in the treatment of asthma where very high doses of steroids are given. In such cases the immune system can be affected. This is mainly seen in cases where certain steroids are given on regular basis. High doses of steroids may cause osteoporosis and also reduces the ability to fight infections. Steroid tablets can also lower the body’s resistance to chickenpox, so you should contact your doctor if you are taking steroid tablets and come into contact with chickenpox. It sometimes may also reduce the potential growth in children.

On the other hand, there are many people with asthma who use a preventer that contains a low dose of inhaled steroid. Some facts about these steroids are:

  • The steroids used to treat asthma are corticosteroids which is a copy of the steroids that is naturally produced in the body. These are different from the ones used by bodybuilders and athletes.
  • Inhaled steroids go straight down to the airways, so very little is absorbed into the rest of the body.

Why can't I take tablets to control my asthma?

The most effective way to take asthma medication is to inhale the medicine so it goes directly into your lungs. Most preventer medications contain steroids, which when inhaled has a much lower dose of the steroid in it. As the inhaled medicine goes straight down to the airways where it is needed, very little is absorbed into the rest of the body.

When steroids are taken in tablet form the dose is much higher (one steroid tablet gives 50 times the dosage of a puff from a standard steroid inhaler) and most of it will be absorbed into the rest of the body, not just your lungs. Using steroid tablets regularly can have serious side effects such as brittle bones (osteoporosis), bruising easily, diabetes, cataracts, increased hunger, heartburn and indigestion. They may make you feel depressed, or have mood swings or a fattened face (moon face)

What do I do if my child has positive allergy test?

If the child has been detected positive in the allergy test, you need to contact your physician immediately. This would allow your physician to prescribe the best medication for your child. He would suggest ways to reduce the effect of the asthma triggers.

How do I know if my inhaler is empty?

You can check if the asthma inhaler is empty depending on the kind of inhaler that you use. If you have pressurized MDI (metered dose inhaler), you can shake the inhaler near your ear, if you feel the liquid swishing then your inhaler is not empty. If you see the puff of mist coming out of the inhaler then you can figure out that the inhaler is almost empty.

If you use a diskus then it is fairly easy as it has a built in counter.

Many Turbuhalers has a built in counter on them. If your Turbuhaler does not have a counter, there would be a red mark that will appear in the window on the side of the device when there are about 20

Would asthma medicines help me sleep better?

Asthma symptoms are very common at night. These symptoms can be controlled with the help of asthma medicines if taken on reglar basis.

It is advisable to keep your beddings dust free. Air filters may also be useful in controlling the night symptoms of asthma