This World Asthma Day (May 5), Asthma Australia is uncovering asthma misconceptions and busting the Great Aussie Asthma Myth – you need to have a wheeze for it to be asthma.

Asthma Australia reached out to their social media community to ask, ‘what asthma myth impacts you the most’ and was bombarded by comments about wheeze – and more specifically that people with asthma do not always experience wheeze as a symptom.

General Practitioner (GP) and Asthma Australia Professional Advisory Council member Dr Tim Senior said whilst wheeze can be an asthma symptom, this is not always the case.

“The wheeze misconception is an interesting topic for World Asthma Day,” Dr Senior said.

“Wheeze is intuitive in asthma, the noise reminds us the airways are tight and narrow, it helps us explain what’s happening. However, not wheezing means people needs to look out for other symptoms like coughing, tight chest, and shortness of breath.

“The truth is wheeze is just one symptom of asthma, and whilst common, not everyone with asthma will wheeze. People can experience an asthma attack without any signs of wheezing, so we need to be alert to all asthma symptoms.”

For many people with asthma, this ‘wheezy myth’ is not only a cause of frustration, but also potentially deadly, which Catherine Field discovered when she took her daughter to the doctor.

“My child is not always an audible wheezer – she is a silent sufferer,” she said.

“One time, we were with our GP and she was having a severe attack, so they called an ambulance.

“When they arrived, she wasn’t wheezing and they assumed she was ok, this was until they listened to her lungs.”

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman encouraged Australians to listen to people with asthma this World Asthma Day to better empathise with their experience.

“Asthma is a complex condition and people experience symptoms differently,” Ms Goldman said.

“Take the time this year to listen to your friends and family with asthma to better understand what asthma is like for them.

“Ask them to explain their triggers and common symptoms and find out if there anything you can do to help – you might be surprised by their response. People can only breathe without air for minutes, so when having an asthma attack any delay can be deadly.”

World Asthma Day (WAD) (May 5, 2021) is held annually by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to raise awareness for asthma.

GINA found that globally the most common asthma misconceptions included:

  1. Myth: Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
    Truth: Asthma can occur at any age
  2. Myth: Asthma is infectious.
    Truth: Asthma is not infectious. Viral respiratory infections can cause asthma.
  3. Myth: Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
    Truth: When asthma is well controlled, you can exercise and perform top sport.
  4. Myth: Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.
    Truth: Asthma is most often controlled with low dose steroids.

People who are experiencing difficulties with their asthma can call an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) for free confidential phone support and information or should visit their doctor. For more information, please visit www.asthma.org.au.