Can you stop having asthma?

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by Kate99 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:35 am

Can you stop having asthma?


I was diagnosed with asthma in my late teens. As where both my siblings. All of us were between 15 and 18 when diagnosed and we believe, as do our asthma nurses that it was caused by our parents smoking. Due to the guilt my father stopped smoking. My mother didn't but since none of us no longer live with our mother we have seen an improvement. My brother has just been told that he is now asthma free over 10 years after diagnosis.

Is this possible? Does this mean there is hope for all of us? My sister now rarely needs to use her inhalers but still has triggers such as cold weather and smoke. Mine is still quite bad but i am also overweight so that doesn't help.

It would be great to think that one day all or some of us will be clear of asthma.

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Dr Joanna Lukawska
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by Dr Joanna Lukawska on Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:27 pm

Re: Can you stop having asthma?

Hi Kate

Difficult to answer this in a straightforward manner.
Firstly asthma has a strong genetic component, as demonstrated by the fact that all of you (3 siblings) were diagnosed with the same condition. I would also guess that at least one of your parents or another close relative has asthma, hay fever or eczema (any of these in a parent produce a tendency to develop asthma and allergies in children).
Cigarette smoke can of course make asthma worse.
Yes it is possible to "grow out of asthma" and in fact a lot of people improve greatly in their 20s and then remain asymptomatic or almost symptom free for the rest of their lives. Some start flaring up again in their 40s, but not all. There are also patients who gradually become less sensitive to the environmental irritants and allergens and hence less symptomatic. Unfortunately there are also people who continue with more or less the same intensity of their asthmatic symptoms throughout their lives.
Finally as you know, it is vitally important to keep your asthma under good control and use your preventer inhalers regularly. Asthmatics are more likely to exacerbate with chest infections during winter or if allergic to pollens during hay fever season and should be particularly vigilant during these months. Make sure your daily control is as good as possible (this can be measured with peak flow meter, and symptom score: are you able to sleep at night without coughing, walk up the stairs without getting short of breath?)
And finally, finally we are still working on a cure and there are many interesting developments in the world of asthma.

Best wishes,
Dr Joanna Lukawska
Clinical Research Fellow & Specialist Registrar in Allergy

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