Do pets cause asthma? Can you still exercise? Liz Connor explains everything you need to know.
Shortness of breath, a tightness in your chest, trouble sleeping from coughing and wheezing… if you’re one of the 5.4 million people in the UK that suffers from asthma, you’ll be aware that this common lung condition can have a big impact on your life.
Asthma can affect anyone, regardless of age, but it often starts in childhood and can continue into adult life. As a long-term inflammatory disease, it usually cause periods of unpleasant symptoms, which can often develop into a full blown asthma attack if unmanaged.
Despite how common it is, there are lots of misconceptions about asthma that can keep people from getting the proper treatment they need. Here are four to get familiar with…
1. You only need to take your inhaler if you’re having symptoms
The main treatment of asthma is with inhalers. Most asthma sufferers will be given both a preventer and a reliever inhaler after a diagnosis. While the reliever inhaler is used to treat an asthma attack, the preventer inhaler stops the symptoms from coming on in the first place.
A GP will be able to advise how often you should be taking your preventer inhaler, but most people find they need to take it every day to manage their symptoms – even if they’re feeling well.
2. You grow out of asthma with age
The NHS says that asthma is a long-term condition for many people, particularly if it starts in your adult life. Parents might find that their child’s asthma disappears or improves during the teenage years, but it can often come back later in life.
3. You can’t go to the gym if you have asthma
While physical activity can be more of a challenge when you have asthma, experts say that incorporating regular exercise into your routine can actually improve your symptoms in the long run.
According to Asthma UK, working out can boost your lung power, reduce breathlessness and support your immune system.
It’s natural to worry that exercising may set off an asthma attack, so make sure you take your preventer inhaler and speak to your GP about breathing techniques. It’s always a good idea to start slowly with a gentle walk or bike ride, before you build up to anything more strenuous.
4. Pets are the cause of asthma
Asthma is caused by swelling to the sensitive airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. While animal fur can often trigger a reaction, the truth is, there’s a range of different things that could set your symptoms off.
As well as dogs, cats and other pets, common asthma triggers include dust mites, pollen, alcohol, cigarette smoke, cold air and infections like colds or flu.
If you’re concerned that you or your child may have asthma, you should speak to your GP. Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment.