Community Pediatric Asthma Service

Medical Educator with family image

Frequently Asked Questions

You've got questions?....we've got answers!  Our  team of Certified Respiratory Educators in Calgary have pulled together their most often asked questions below.  Take a look below to see if your question has been answered and if not...we are only a click away.  Send us an email with your asthma question.

Our two most frequently asked questions are:


No, not yet, but asthma can usually be well controlled by avoiding asthma triggers and by using medicine.

If you use a metered dose inhaler (MDI aka "puffer"), you should always use a spacer. A spacer allows significantly more medication to reach your lungs, and will decrease the amount of medicine that settles in your mouth thereby minimizing possible side effects.

If you won't use a spacer, you should talk to your doctor about getting a different asthma device.  Dry powder inhalers do not require spacers. 

You should ask your pharmacist, your doctor or your asthma educator to review your device technique every time you see them. It is harder to be good at taking your medicine than you might think. Consider limiting your asthma devices to the same type of device so that you can become really good at one technique.

We have natural hormones in our bodies that are normally at lower levels during the night and this can make you more likely to have asthma symptoms at night. If your child has regular asthma symptoms at night, it may mean their asthma is poorly controlled and you should make an appointment and discuss this with your doctor.

Asthma symptoms may disappear in adolescence, but can come back in adulthood. The more you reduce your exposure to your environmental triggers, the better the chances are that your asthma symptoms will stay away. Children who have family members (or relatives) with asthma and/or allergies are more likely to develop asthma compared with children from non-allergic families.

Definitely! If you are continuously exposed to one of your allergic triggers, your asthma will be more severe, and you will likely require more medicine to control your symptoms. Many people who are exposed to a pet or other allergen continuously will not experience the immediate symptoms (for example hay fever, wheeze), but this does not mean that they are not allergic. This is because constant exposure will contribute to inflammation in the airways of your lungs, and inflammation causes asthma symptoms. This constant exposure also makes it more likely for you to experience more severe symptoms when you are exposed to other triggers (an additive effect). Intermittent exposure to allergic triggers can cause immediate, and occasionally severe asthma symptoms. All allergic triggers that have been identified should be avoided, so that your asthma is milder and easier to control on less medicine.

Allergy testing is used to identify allergic triggers that may be worsening allergic conditions including asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. Once allergic triggers are identified, steps can be taken to reduce exposure, and help to reduce the severity of symptoms. Most allergists will use a prick skin test to identify allergic triggers, a procedure in which a small drop of allergenic extract is placed on the forearm or back, and the surface of the skin is pricked through the drop. A small hive will appear at the site of a positive test within twenty minutes.

The answer is yes! Although dogs and horses can get lung diseases similar to asthma, cats are the only animal that can have asthma just like humans. They take the same medicine (a preventer and a reliever) and they even use a spacer like we do! Take a look at some pictures of our furry friends using asthma devices.

Asthma medicines are generally very safe when used as prescribed by a doctor. The treatment goal is to find the lowest dose of medicine needed to maintain good control of asthma (no symptoms). The potential benefits of good control of asthma far outweigh any possible risks or side effects of asthma medicine. 

When asthma is well controlled, most colds can be managed with using more reliever medicine.  Follow your Asthma Action Plan.   Saline sprays and rinses can also be used to help clear the nose.

You bet. Someone who has an allergy to a food (including dairy products), and also has asthma, can develop immediate worsening of asthma symptoms during an allergic reaction to that food. On the other hand, it would be extremely unlikely for food allergies to cause chronic or persistent asthma symptoms. An assessment by a trained allergist is necessary to confirm or rule out any concerns about allergy triggers, including food allergy. A food allergy can be life threatening, especially if someone also has asthma.

Yes. Exercise is as important for people with asthma as it is for everyone else. There are many Olympic athletes with asthma who maintain good asthma control so they can compete in their sport(s). The key to exercise with asthma is to avoid your triggers and use your medicine as prescribed. If your child's ability to exercise is limited because of asthma, the asthma is probably not well controlled and you should see your doctor.

Here are more frequently asked questions from patients. 


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Material on this website has been designed for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.