Asthma Myths and Facts

Is asthma a psychological condition? Are asthma medications addictive? The experts at CHOP give you the facts about asthma and how it's treated.

Asthma is a psychological condition.

Not true. Some people used to believe that asthma was caused by an emotional problem. It is not true, asthma is due to problems in the lungs and the immune system's over-reaction to triggers in the environment that we breathe in.

Asthma medicine is addictive.

Not true. Asthma is a chronic long term condition, so patients with asthma may always need to take medication, but it is not because they are addicted to the medication.

If my child takes asthma medicine everyday for a long time, it will lose effectiveness and won't work when she's really sick.

Not true. Different medicines work differently. Some medicines only work when you take them everyday and some work when you take them as needed to treat symptoms. Make sure you know your child's medications and how they work. If you don't know which type of medication your child is taking, ask your child's healthcare provider.

The steroids used to treat asthma are the same as the steroids used by athletes to get bigger and stronger.

Not true.

When I feel fine and have no symptoms it's because the asthma has gone away.

Not true. You still have asthma even when you feel fine and have no symptoms.

Nebulizers are the best way to give asthma medicines to babies and children.

Not true. Medicine given by metered dose inhaler with a spacer with face mask is just as effective.

I can stop taking my medicine when I feel good and don't have any symptoms or problems breathing.

True, but also not true. You should only stop taking a medication when you have been instructed to do so by your healthcare provider. If you have asthma, you should not stop taking long term control medication when you feel well. You feel well and don't have symptoms or problems breathing because the medicine is working. However, you should not take quick relief medicine when you feel well, it should only be used as needed when you have symptoms or problems breathing or as pretreatment before exercise (as directed in your asthma action plan).

If my child has asthma, he or she should not be allowed to play like other kids and shouldn't take gym class or play sports.

Not true. All kids need to play and exercise to be healthy. Kids with asthma can play, take gym class and play sports, but may need to take medication before they play. Kids with asthma that is not under control may not be able to keep up with their peers, get tired out before other kids or may develop symptoms when they play.