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Can You Grow Out of Asthma?

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The prospect of breaking free from an ailment that hinders breathing excites asthma sufferers.

Can’t Catch A Breath

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Your own lungs are suffocating you! During a bronchial asthma attack, oxygen-carrying tubes with your lungs, called bronchi, swell and possibly fill with thick mucus. With allergic asthma, muscles around your lungs constrict as an immune response, making it difficult for them to expand.

It does not matter whether the origin is stress, dust mites, pollen, running, playing on the lawn, running, catching a common cold, or hay fever. Airways must open. Mucus viscosity needs to thin and expel in order to resume breathing. Over 4,000 prevent­able asthma deaths occur each year in the United States. Can you grow out of asthma?

Gone But Not Forgotten

A person can develop asthma symptoms at any time in life. The prospect of breaking free from an ailment that hinders breathing excites asthma sufferers.

In the 1960s and 70s, pneumatic Intermittent Positive Pressure Breathing (IPPB) machines in hospitals to treat asthma, among other respiratory ailments. The Bird Mark 7 would simultaneously expand bronchioles and nebulize medication like Vaponephrine, Mucomyst, Alevaire, Tergemist, Alupent, or Albuterol. Today pulmonology doctors prescribe portable nebulizers that can be kept in a purse or pocket for personal use.

Mark 7 Respirator
Bird Mark 7 Respirator

Though not popular, it is possible for an individual to grow out of childhood asthma. I know, because it happened to me—mostly. Like a recovering alcoholic or drug abuser, we are humbled by the reminder of our past.

People who use an asthma inhaler should avoid using any product that contains amino­phyl­line, even a cream that contains it, because it can cause breathing problems. —aad.org

For some people, adult eczema or rashes and other anomalies have asthma origins. Cigarette smoke, strong perfume and cheap cologne take my breath away. Prolonged secondhand smoke inhalation can trigger late-night wheezing.

I manifest rashes and vertiginous reactions to airborne mold spores, mildew and ragweed. As long as I stay clear of these things, there is no need for an inhaler. My classic bronchial asthma migrated to milder allergic asthma.

Not All Children Outgrow Asthma

Your Child May Outgrow Asthma

Though an older child or adult may be asympto­matic, a medical procedure not routinely done—lung biopsy by a pulmonology surgeon—is the only way to know for sure if asthma is gone or in remission. “Children with more-severe asthma are less likely to outgrow it,” says James TC Li, M.D., Ph.D.

There are other factors to consider. Sometimes, what appears to be asthma is actually bronchitis, recurrent pneumonia, or bronchio­litis. These and other asthma-like conditions can improve as children get older. My personal experiences contradict most working theories since severe monthly attacks were triggered by pretty much everything.

Medical Theories On Asthma Remission
  • Airways enlarge with age.
  • Wheezing triggered by colds improve as children mature.
  • Attacks prompted by respiratory infection subside.
  • Children with eczema have lasting asthma symptoms.
  • Correlation with severity of asthma past age 5 likelihood of persistent asthma.

What parent wants to see their child suffer? A changing household environment may factor into remission. Dust mites, mold spores or other triggers within carpeting can plague children for years. Removing or replacing decades-old carpet can bring relief. Moving out of the family home—perhaps to a new climate—can also be a catalyst to improvement.

With proper care, those with childhood asthma can be A Bit More Healthy. Symptoms may improve or vanish with age. Obesity and introduction of prior allergies may end childhood asthma remission. People who are allergic to cats might have an increased risk for developing adult-onset asthma.

Delays in asthma diagnosis and treatment can permanently impair lung function. It is unlikely that adult-onset asthma will subside but with proper care, you can manage it.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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