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The Forum of International Respiratory Societies Calls For An End to Asthma Myths and Misconceptions

May 5, 2021 - On World Asthma Day, the American Thoracic Society joins the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and other founding members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in recognizing this year’s theme: “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Asthma Report, more than 339 million people suffer from asthma, which can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. The WHO estimates that in 2016, 420,000 people died from asthma – 1,150 each day. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to control the disease to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes.

This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. FIRS joins this call to action, to address common widely-held myths and misconceptions concerning asthma that prevent people with asthma from enjoying optimal benefit from the major advances in the management of this condition.

Common misconceptions surrounding asthma include:

  1. Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
  2. Asthma is infectious.
  3. Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
  4. Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.

 The truth is:

  1. Asthma can occur at any age (in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.
  2. Asthma is not infectious. However, viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold and the flu) can cause asthma attacks. In children, asthma is frequently associated with allergy, but asthma which starts in adulthood is less often allergy-related.
  3. When asthma is well-controlled, asthma patients are able to exercise and even perform in top sports.
  4. Asthma is most often controllable with low-dose inhaled steroids.

Today is the 23rd annual World Asthma Day, an event recognized each May to raise awareness of asthma worldwide.

World Asthma Day was first held in 1998 and has grown each year to become one of the most important asthma events globally. On World Asthma Day, hundreds of awareness-raising activities will take place in countries all over the world.

FIRS invites everyone to participate in World Asthma Day events on May 5, 2021. Further information about GINA and World Asthma Day can be found at ginasthma.org.