Community Pediatric Asthma Service

Patient Questions (FAQs)

Patient Questions (FAQs)

You have questions?  We have answers!

Our team of Certified Respiratory Educators in Calgary have pulled together the most common questions they get asked. Take a look below to see if your question has been answered and if not...we are only a click away.

Does my child have asthma?


Asthma Myths...Busted!

Asthma can be cured.

Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled, so you can live without regular symptoms.

Asthma is contagious.

No, asthma is NOT contagious. You can not “catch” asthma like you can catch a cold.

Asthma triggers are the same for everyone.

Every person with asthma is different and so are their asthma triggers.  How much your asthma triggers bother you is also unique to you.

Children can outgrow asthma.

Some children appear to outgrow asthma by puberty, but as an adult, asthma symptoms may re-appear with a viral illness like a cold or new allergic trigger.

I have to stop sports and exercise because I have asthma.

There are Olympic athletes who have asthma.

Exercise is good for everyone.

When your asthma is in good control, there are no limits to sports and exercise

You may need to take your reliever inhaler before some activities. Follow your Asthma Action Plan

Inhaled corticosteroids are dangerous and will stunt my child’s growth..

Regular use of inhaled corticosteroids by children does not significantly affect their expected adult height.

When used as prescribed, inhaled corticosteroids are safe.

I can stop taking my controller medicine when I start feeling better.

When your controller medicine is working, your symptoms decrease and you feel better. When you stop taking your controller medicine, airway swelling can come back and your symptoms will return.

Follow your Asthma Action Plan or ask your healthcare provider for one if you don’t have a plan.

My pet is not triggering my asthma because they are a hypo-allergenic breed.

Some people with asthma react to animal dander (flakes of shed skin).  If pets are an asthma trigger for you, then there may be no such thing as an allergy-free dog or cat, even iguanas can trigger allergies!

Reducing your exposure to pet allergens is the best way to control your asthma, if you are sensitive to pet allergens.

Asthma medicines are addictive.

No, asthma medicines are NOT addictive. Asthma is a chronic condition, like diabetes, and most people with asthma need to take regular medicine to control their asthma symptoms.

My child does not have asthma because they don’t wheeze.

The symptoms of asthma are coughing (#1 symptom in children), shortness of breath, wheezing and a tight chest (a feeling like something very heavy is sitting on your chest). Any of these symptoms can be an asthma symptom. 


Anyone that uses a metered-dose inhaler (MDI aka "puffer") should always use a spacer.  A spacer helps more medicine reach your lungs. 

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 (glucocorticoids) in our bodies that help keep the airways open by reducing inflammation. At nighttime when you are sleeping, these hormones are normally at lower levels, allowing more inflammation in the airways and increasing asthma symptoms. 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.

Definitely! If you are continuously exposed to one of your allergic triggers, your asthma will be more severe, and you will likely need more medicine to control your symptoms. Many people who are exposed to a pet or other allergen continuously may not experience immediate symptoms, but this does not mean they are not allergic. Constant exposure will contribute to swelling in the airways of your lungs and swelling causes asthma symptoms. Constant exposure to your triggers makes it more likely for you to experience more severe symptoms when you are exposed to other triggers (an additive effect). Intermittent (off and on) exposure to allergic triggers can cause immediate, and occasionally severe asthma symptoms. All allergic triggers that you have identified should be avoided as much as possible so that your asthma is milder and easier to control with less medicine.

Allergy testing is used to try to identify allergic triggers that may be making allergy conditions worse, like asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. Once allergic triggers are identified, steps can be taken to reduce exposure to help to reduce the severity of symptoms. Most allergists will use a prick skin test to identify allergic triggers.  This is a procedure when 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.

Skin tests aren't always accurate. Skin testing sometimes indicates an allergy when there isn't one (false-positive) or skin testing may not trigger a reaction when you're exposed to something that you are allergic to (false-negative). You may react differently to the same test performed on a different day or you may react positively to a substance during a test, but not react to it in everyday life.

Yes!  Animals with asthma take the same medicines humans do (a controller 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 to treat their symptoms

Asthma medicines are very safe when used as prescribed by a doctor. The treatment goal is to adjust the amount of medicine to keep good control of asthma (no symptoms). The benefits of good asthma control far outweigh any possible risks or side effects of asthma medicines. 

When asthma is well controlled, most colds can be managed using more reliever medicine.  Follow your Asthma Action Plan and if you don’t have one ask your doctor to provide one, ask your doctor or health care provider to write you a plan or refer you to an Asthma Educator.  Saline (salt) sprays and rinses can also be used to help clear the nose.

You should use your medicines as your doctor has prescribed them. Using your controller and reliever medicines should help your asthma symptoms when you are exposed to your asthma triggers.   If you have concerns or questions,  ask your doctor or health care provider.

Yes. Someone who has an allergy to a food 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 regular asthma symptoms. An assessment by a trained allergist can confirm or rule out any concerns you have about allergy triggers, including food.

A food allergy can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis), especially if someone also has asthma. It is very important to have well-controlled asthma when you have food anaphylaxis.  Anaphylaxis can be fatal.


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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.