Asthma Myths: Believe it or not.


The number of popularly held beliefs that find incredible support on the internet despite a lack of scientific support is not insignificant. Your physicians, hopefully, look a the available evidence and then make a decision about whether or not a particular treatment is a good for for you. Many of the popularly held beliefs or asthma myths discussed here do not have that support.

Onions For Coughing

Chronic cough is one of the common symptoms of poorly controlled asthma as well as what brings patients in for a new asthma diagnosis. In Spain, onions are thought to be an excellent cough suppressant.

An onion is cut in half and placed near your child’s bedside. It is thought that the onion emits vapors that are aerosolized and breathed in by people in close proximity. The vapors provide a therapeutic effect.

It is likely this practice suffers from what is called enthusiasm bias. The parent, who places a perfectly good onion nedt to their child, wants a positive result and probably prone to find one.

On the other hand if you search in your favorite web browser, you can find detailed descriptions of the benefits of:

  • cutting the onion in half versus chopping
  • safety in younger kids
  • side effects
  • unpleasantness in using the treatment
  • efficacy

Onion therapy is a popularly held belief without any supporting scientific evidence, but is also not likely to cause any harm.

Dairy Products Make Asthma Worse

Some alternative medicine practitioners feel that dairy products increase phlegm and make asthma worse. These practitioners will recommend the use of soy milk or other vegetable drinks instead of milk. Foods are not a common asthma trigger, but asthma patients are commonly known to have allergies. For example, 2% of infants are allergic to cow’s milk. In this small population milk exposure can lead to asthma symptoms in addition to hives and vomiting. More commonly, infants may experience intolerance and develop diarrhea and some vomiting.

The important difference is that intolerance will not exacerbate asthma symptoms. If you feel that your child has some type of allergic reaction to milk it is important to see your doctor. They will likely either test or refer you for blood testing for IgE and/ or skin testing for allergy to milk.

In fact, some studies have demonstrated exposure dairy may may reduce risk of asthma.

Exercise Should Be Avoided

While exercise can trigger asthma symptoms in some patients, many asthma educators and doctors continue to fight this asthma myth. Exercise is needed to avoid obesity and is an important part of normal children’s lives. The goal for  asthma patients is for them to live as normal a life as possible, which means participating in normal activities.

With appropriate management most asthma patients can participate in sports and exercise without problems. In fact, many professional and olympic athletes successfully compete with asthma. With an appropriate asthma action plan, asthmatics can participate in in whatever sport or execirise they are interested in.


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