Around 25 million people¹ in the United States have asthma, and approximately 6 million² of them are children. Asthma is a chronic condition affecting the lungs, causing inflammation in the airways and making breathing difficult.
While asthma is a chronic disease, meaning you'll have it for life, it is possible to experience remission of your symptoms. Learn more about what this means, whether it's likely for you, and when you should see a doctor.
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Asthma remission means that for the last 12 or more months, you:
Haven't experienced any asthma symptoms
Have experienced good, stable lung function
Haven't had to use any rescue inhalers or corticosteroid medications
Around 50%³ of children diagnosed with asthma experience remission by reaching adulthood. However, remission becomes less probable if you are diagnosed at an older age or have severe asthma symptoms. Remission is more likely if you have milder symptoms, have good control over those symptoms, and was diagnosed at an earlier age.
No. Asthma is a chronic condition that will never go away. There is currently no cure for asthma. However, it's possible to experience remission of your symptoms, which means they may not affect you for long periods.
This is more likely if you have mild asthma, are diagnosed early, and follow a good treatment plan.
The effects of asthma will always be present, though. That's because of the airway inflammation that's a characteristic of asthma. Inflammation can change your lungs permanently, especially if the condition isn't treated or managed well. It may cause scarring, destroy your lungs' ability to secrete mucus and make them less effective at filtering allergens and pollution.
Muscle spasms in the airways due to asthma may also permanently decrease your lung function. This means your asthma symptoms may come back at any time, even if you haven't had an asthma attack for decades.
It's unclear why some people get asthma while others do not. Similarly, it's unclear why some people experience remission of those symptoms. However, whether a child will experience remission of their asthma symptoms may depend on their asthma type, when it's diagnosed, and how it's treated.
Symptoms are more likely to disappear if:
The child is diagnosed when they are younger
They aren't sensitive to allergens from a young age
There isn't a family history of asthma
Their asthma symptoms aren't severe
Asthma can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, one study⁴ found that it was misdiagnosed around 28% of the time. Asthma symptoms can be very similar to other medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or a respiratory infection.
To know if it’s really asthma or not, you’ll need to work with your doctor. They can use tests such as spirometry or a peak airflow test to make a diagnosis, and they may recommend other tests such as a chest x-ray to help rule out other conditions.
No. While some children may experience remission of their asthma symptoms as they get older, their asthma doesn't go away. It may still be triggered in adulthood. Changes in your life, such as moving to a new home, changing jobs, or getting pregnant, could trigger your asthma again.
You may also want to keep a rescue inhaler available just in case.
If you start to experience symptoms of asthma as an adult, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options.
The best way to prevent asthma symptoms is to avoid your asthma triggers and take good care of your lungs. To do this, you should:
Continue taking any medication recommended by your doctor
Avoid your asthma triggers
Stop smoking if you are currently a smoker
Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollution
Avoid excessive weight gain and stay active
Try to stay healthy, as illnesses such as a cold or respiratory infection can trigger asthma symptoms
If allergens are an asthma trigger for you, you may want to talk to your doctor about immunotherapy. These are also called allergy shots. Immunotherapy works by injecting small amounts of the triggering allergen into your body to help build natural immunity.
This can help prevent the allergen from triggering your asthma symptoms.
The best way to minimize the risk of having an asthma attack is to know your triggers and work to avoid them. Triggers vary from person to person, so what triggers your asthma may not trigger someone else's symptoms. You can talk to your doctor about testing that can help determine your asthma triggers, such as food allergies, household allergies such as dust and pet dander, or seasonal allergies such as tree pollen.
Some tests can help determine if exercise or exposure to certain chemicals may trigger an attack.
However, other triggers are harder to determine. Changes in the weather, your emotional state, and even hormone fluctuations can trigger an asthma attack. Keeping a journal of your symptoms may help you pinpoint these triggers and become more aware of them.
Asthma is a condition affecting the lungs. Around 25 million people in the United States have asthma, including 6 million children. Asthma is a chronic condition, but it's possible to experience remission of the symptoms.
You cannot outgrow asthma, though. Even if you stop experiencing the symptoms, they could come back anytime.
Around 50% of people diagnosed with asthma as children will experience remission by reaching adulthood. Remission is less common in adults, those with severe asthma symptoms, and those who have experienced symptoms for a long time before starting treatment. The best way to prevent an asthma attack is to stick to the treatment plan created by your doctor and avoid your asthma triggers.
If you start to experience asthma symptoms, even after a period of remission, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options.
Asthma facts and figures | Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Asthma in children | Center for Disease Control and Prevention