(Last Updated On: June 22, 2023)

Can Asthma Go Away?

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is chronic and can lead to a host of symptoms, including breathing difficulties, chest tightness, and wheezing. For people living with asthma, a common question persists: Can asthma go away?

The answer to this question is complex, as asthma can persist for years or even a lifetime. However, there are instances where asthma symptoms can subside, and individuals can experience periods of remission from their symptoms. This does not mean that they have been “cured” of their asthma; rather, their symptoms are under control and managed effectively.

You boy with asthma using inhaler

Can Asthma Symptoms Disappear?

Some people may experience periods of remission from their asthma symptoms, leading them to wonder if asthma can go away completely. While asthma may not have a cure, there are instances where its symptoms can disappear completely or significantly reduce for a while. This generally happens due to a combination of factors, such as genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and proper management.

Temporary Remission 

Temporary remission of asthma symptoms can occur due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is proper management and treatment of the condition—taking the right medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider, avoiding triggers, and following a personal asthma action plan. When asthma sufferers adhere to these guidelines, they may experience significant relief from their symptoms and even long periods of remission.

Environmental factors also play a crucial role in the temporary remission of asthma symptoms. If individuals with asthma avoid exposure to triggers such as pollen, dust, or mold, their symptoms may reduce, and they may experience a period of remission. Maintaining good indoor air quality by regularly cleaning and ventilating the living space can also help to reduce exposure to triggers.

Lifestyle changes are another crucial aspect of managing asthma and achieving temporary remission of symptoms. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet can help to improve lung function, making individuals less susceptible to asthma attacks. Managing stress levels is also essential as stress is a known trigger for asthma symptoms.

Long-Term Remission 

Many people wonder if it’s possible to achieve long-term remission of asthma symptoms. While long-term remission is possible, asthma is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. The good news is that in some cases, individuals with asthma can experience extended periods without symptoms. 

One way to achieve long-term remission is through proper management and effective treatment of the condition. This involves working closely with a healthcare provider to develop an asthma action plan that includes the use of prescribed medications, regular check-ups, and monitoring of lung function. By following this plan consistently, individuals with asthma can reduce the frequency and severity of their symptoms, potentially leading to long-term remission. 

Close monitoring is key. If you experience relief in your allergy symptoms, it could be lying dormant, explains Dr. Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK, a research and advocacy organization. He stresses the importance of remaining vigilant.

In some cases, the underlying cause of asthma can be targeted directly through immunotherapy, leading to long-term remission. This treatment involves exposing the individual to small amounts of the allergen that triggers their asthma to desensitize their immune system to it. Over time, this can lead to a reduction in asthma symptoms.

Once again, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can contribute to the long-term remission of asthma symptoms. This includes engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and managing stress levels. These habits can improve overall lung function and reduce the likelihood of asthma attacks.

Can You Outgrow Asthma and Have It Return?

Many people with asthma wonder if it is possible to outgrow the condition and if it can come back after a period of remission. The answer to both questions is yes, it is possible. Studies have shown that up to 50 percent of children with asthma may experience a decrease in symptoms or even go into remission as they get older. This can happen because the airways become larger as children grow and develop, making it easier for air to flow through them. In addition, changes in the immune system and decreased exposure to allergens can also play a role in the improvement of symptoms.

However, asthma can return at any time. Some people who have experienced remission or improvement of symptoms may find that their asthma returns later in life. This often happens in response to environmental factors such as exposure to allergens or respiratory infections. Some people may also have mild or asymptomatic asthma that only becomes apparent later in life.

While asthma won’t go away for good, it is possible to manage the condition effectively with proper medical care and lifestyle changes. For those who have gone into remission or experienced a decrease in symptoms, continually monitoring and managing asthma may prevent it from coming back. 

Developing Asthma Later in Life: Less Chance for Remission

While some people experience their first asthma symptoms later in life. It has been estimated that up to 5-10 percent of adults may develop asthma for the first time after the age of 40. People who develop asthma later in life are less likely to experience remission or improvement of symptoms. This is because asthma that develops later in life is often triggered by factors such as environmental pollutants, respiratory infections, or occupational exposures. These triggers can cause ongoing inflammation of the airways, making it more difficult to control asthma symptoms.

In addition, older adults with asthma may have other underlying health conditions that can complicate asthma management. For example, they may have cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other respiratory conditions that share similar symptoms with asthma. Older adults may also be more likely to experience side effects from certain asthma medications or have other health conditions that may affect asthma treatment.

What Can Trigger Asthma to Come Back?

One of the most common triggers for asthma to resurge is exposure to allergens. Allergens can include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. When an individual with asthma breathes in these allergens, it can irritate their airways and trigger asthma symptoms. People with asthma should identify their specific allergens and take steps to reduce exposure as much as possible.

Respiratory infections can also trigger asthma to come back. Viral infections like the common cold or the flu can cause inflammation and swelling in the airways, making it more difficult to breathe and increasing the risk of an asthma attack. Individuals with asthma should take extra precautions to avoid getting sick, such as washing their hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick individuals.

Certain environmental factors can also trigger asthma to come back. Exposure to air pollution, cigarette smoke, and cold air can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Individuals with asthma should monitor air quality and avoid exposure to these triggers.

Stress and strong emotions can also trigger asthma to come back. When an individual with asthma experiences intense emotions like anxiety or anger, it can cause their airways to constrict and make it more difficult to breathe. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and therapy can help reduce the risk of asthma flare-ups.

Finally, not properly managing asthma can increase the risk of it coming back. This means taking medications as prescribed, following an asthma action plan, and regularly monitoring lung function. 

How Do You Know If Your Asthma Is Coming Back?

If you suffer from asthma, you know firsthand how debilitating and frightening it can be. You may have experienced periods of relief, followed by sudden, unexpected attacks that leave you gasping for air. Stay vigilant about the signs and symptoms of asthma, even during periods of remission. Here are some telltale signs that your asthma may be coming back:

  • Wheezing: This is the hallmark symptom of asthma and occurs when the air passages in your lungs narrow, making it difficult to breathe. You may hear a whistling or squeaking sound when you breathe, especially during exhalation.
  • Chest tightness: You may feel discomfort or pressure in your chest as if someone is sitting on it. This can be a frightening sensation and may cause you to feel anxious or panicky.
  • Shortness of breath: This is the feeling of being unable to catch your breath, even when you’re not physically exerting yourself. You may feel as if you can’t take a deep breath or that you’re not getting enough air.
  • Coughing: Asthma-related coughing often produces mucus or phlegm and can be persistent. It may occur during the day or at night and may worsen with physical activity or exposure to certain triggers.
  • Fatigue: Asthma can make you feel exhausted, even when you’re not doing much physically. This fatigue may be due to the increased effort required to breathe or due to the disruption of sleep caused by nighttime symptoms.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can help you identify the triggers of your asthma and develop an action plan that will help you manage your symptoms. This may include regular asthma medications, as well as quick-relief inhalers for acute symptoms.

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