Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung condition characterized by narrowing of the airways leading to lung changes that can be permanent.(1, 2, 3) Common symptoms of asthma include wheezing, cough and shortness of breath.(3)
About 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and children comprise about 6 million of this number.(4)
Many people want to know if they can get rid of asthma completely. Sadly, there is no complete cure for asthma and it does not go away entirely after a patient develops it.
Any changes to the lungs means that there is a great chance of recurrence of the asthma symptoms; especially if there are triggers present. However, the good news is, with proper management and treatment, asthma symptoms can improve as time goes on.
A patient can also experience remission; however, this depends on the severity of the asthma. After achieving remission, it is extremely important that the patient takes care and manages asthma throughout life so as to prevent recurrence and any potential complications.
Is It Possible To Have Remission From Asthma and How Does It Occur?(5)
According to a research in 2020, remission of asthma is said to have achieved if the patient has gone 12 months or more without the use of corticosteroid medications, does not experience any significant symptoms along with improved lung function tests.
When a patient is in remission from asthma, then the patient will experience:
- Very less visits to the doctor with regards to the asthma symptoms.
- Patient will no longer have any asthma attacks.
- Patient is able to participate in moderate to intense sports and exercises.
- Patient is less dependent on quick-relief medications (inhalers).
- The patient is sleeping better because of less asthma symptoms.
How Good Are The Chances of Remission From Asthma?
The more the severity of the asthma, the less the chances are of remission. If the asthma is managed and treated well and the patient is avoiding all the asthma triggers, then it is possible to achieve remission from asthma. The chances of remission are very less if the severity of the asthma is high. The chances of having a remission are also less for patients developing asthma later in life.
The age also plays a role in remission of asthma. A study done in 1999 revealed that elderly and middle-aged adults developing asthma in the latter part of their life are less likely to have remission from this chronic disease.
Does Asthma Go Away as the Child Grows?
There is a huge misconception that all children will ‘outgrow’ their asthma. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says that children can have asthma remission as adults; however, about one-third of children suffering from asthma will experience symptoms when they grow up into adults. A study in 2014 showed that a second wave of symptoms can develop later in adulthood.(6)
After Having Remission, Will Symptoms of Asthma Return?
Inflammation is the primary characteristic feature of asthma and it alters the mechanism of functioning of the lungs. It is important to be aware and to avoid the asthma triggers even if there is an improvement in the asthma and its symptoms. Some of the common triggers of asthma, especially in children are allergies and cold.(7)
Asthma can remain in its improved state for a long time and can return if the patient gets sick or upon exposure to triggers, such as during the allergy season.
What are Some Asthma Triggers?(9, 10, 11, 12 13)
Some of the other possible asthma triggers include: Other allergic conditions, exercise, cold weather, stress, dust and cigarette smoke.
What are the Ways To Prevent The Symptoms Of Asthma From Returning?(10, 13)
Avoiding the asthma triggers is an effective way to prevent flare-ups of asthma. You may not be able to entirely prevent your asthma symptoms from returning, but managing and treating your condition can help reduce their recurrence. Avoiding your triggers is one way you can help prevent asthma flare-ups. Other ways to prevent recurrence of asthma symptoms are:
Continue Taking the Prescribed Asthma Medications(14, 15)
Continuing to take long-term control medications prescribed for asthma treatment helps in preventing asthma flare-ups. Never ever stop taking asthma medications on your own, even if there is a great improvement in the symptoms. If the asthma medications are stopped, then the symptoms can return back with more force resulting in taking more of rescue medications, such as fast-acting inhalers.
Continue Avoiding Asthma Triggers, Even After Asthma Improves
Avoiding your triggers and being more aware of your environment is hugely responsible for preventing the recurrence of asthma symptoms. The following steps help in preventing asthma flare-ups:
- Avoid Pet Dander: If you are allergic to animal dander, then it is highly recommended to keep your pets out of your bed.
- Antihistamines: During the allergy season, it is important to take over-the-counter antihistamines to help in preventing the symptoms of allergic asthma.
- Cleaning: Always keep your home clean and while cleaning pay more attention to areas where there can be accumulation of dust, such as curtains, rugs, carpets etc.
- Avoid Exercising In Cold Weather: Always use caution when indulging in sports or exercising in cold weather.
- Stay Away From Cigarette Smoke: Stop smoking and avoid cigarette smoke. Quitting smoking benefits asthma patient by preventing its recurrence. A study in 2007 showed that there was an increased remission of asthma in adult females and males who had quit smoking.(8) Quitting smoking benefits the asthma by improving the function of the lungs.
- Allergy Shots or Immunotherapy Can Be Tried(16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21): Allergy shots or immunotherapy can help patients suffering from allergic asthma. Allergy shots comprise of small amounts of the allergens that are increased gradually over several months or years.(18) Allergy shots are more helpful for seasonal allergies in children, as it helps in building their immunity so the severity of asthma symptoms will be less when they grow up to be adults. However, despite taking allergy shots, asthma can still recur if exposed to other triggers.
Sadly asthma has no cure and it is not possible to completely get rid of asthma. If asthma is treated and managed by taking medicines on time and avoiding triggers, then one can have remission from asthma for a long time too. Once a person develops asthma, it’s unlikely that the symptoms of this chronic condition will go away. However, the severity of asthma symptoms differs depending on: Treatment, triggers and genetics.
It is important to continue to take asthma medications as per your doctor’s advice and avoid triggers even after experiencing remission. Always keep a quick-relief inhaler with you in case of an asthma flare-up.