According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated
But as a chronic lung condition, asthma doesn’t completely go away once you develop it.
Asthma is an inflammatory condition that narrows (constricts) your airways, which in turn creates permanent changes to your lungs.
The changes to your lungs mean that your symptoms may return, particularly when you encounter triggers.
However, your symptoms may improve over time with treatment and management. Depending on the severity of your asthma, it’s even possible for you to experience remission.
Despite achieving remission though, it’s important to manage your asthma throughout life to avoid possible complications.
According to a 2020 research review, asthma remission means that you have gone 12 months or longer without significant symptoms or the use of corticosteroid medications, as well as improved lung function tests.
When your asthma is in remission, you may experience:
- no asthma attacks or hospital visits
- fewer doctor visits (if any) related directly to your symptoms
- less of a reliance on quick-relief medications, such as inhalers
- an ability to participate in moderate to intense exercises and sports
- better sleep due to fewer nighttime symptoms
Remission is less likely the more severe your asthma
When your asthma is managed and you’re not in contact with common triggers, such as allergens, you may experience remission. However, remission is less likely the more severe your asthma is.
People who develop asthma later in life are also less likely to experience remission
The age of asthma onset may also be a factor. One old, large 1999 study found that middle-aged and elderly adults who developed asthma later in life were less likely to experience remission.
Researchers in the study above determined that of 6,610 people, only 6 percent reportedly entered remission within 10 years.
Children do not ‘outgrow’ their asthma
It’s also a misconception that all children “outgrow” their asthma.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, children may experience remission from asthma as adults, but about one-third of children with asthma will have symptoms as adults.
A 2014 study found that it’s possible to experience a second peak of symptoms later in adulthood.
One characteristic of asthma is inflammation, which changes the way your lungs function. Even if your asthma improves, it’s important to remain vigilant against your triggers.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, colds and allergies are the most common triggers — especially in children.
It’s possible to experience improved asthma for a long period of time, and then for your symptoms to return during allergy season or if you get sick.
Other possible asthma triggers are:
There’s also a greater chance that your symptoms will return if you have:
- a personal or family history of asthma
- eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Smoking — or living with someone who does — can also increase your risk of developing returning asthma symptoms.
You may not be able to entirely prevent your asthma symptoms from returning, but managing and treating your condition can help reduce their recurrence. Avoiding your triggers is one way you can help prevent asthma flare-ups.
Keep taking prescribed medications
Long-term controller medications may also help treat your asthma and prevent symptoms from returning. It’s important not to stop taking your prescribed medications — even if your symptoms are better.
If you stop taking your medications as prescribed, this could cause your symptoms to return at a higher severity, leading to an over-reliance on fast-acting inhalers and other rescue medications.
Continue to avoid asthma triggers
Preventing asthma symptoms from returning may also depend on avoiding your triggers and controlling your environment as much as possible. The following steps may help:
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines during allergy season to help prevent symptoms of allergic asthma.
- Keep pets out of your bed if you’re allergic to animal dander.
- Clean your home often, paying special attention to areas where dust can accumulate, such as carpeting, rugs, and curtains.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
- Exercise in cold weather with caution.
If you smoke, try to quit
If you currently smoke, quitting can also help prevent asthma recurrence. one 2007 study found an increased remission rate overall among adult males and females who quit smoking.
By quitting smoking, you may increase lung function.
Consider immunotherapy, or allergy shots
If you have allergic asthma, immunotherapy (also called allergy shots), may help. These shots consist of small amounts of the substances you’re allergic to, with gradual increases over the course of several months (or even years).
Allergy shots may be especially helpful for children with seasonal allergies, and it can help them build up immunity so they don’t experience as severe of symptoms as adults.
However, it’s still possible for other triggers to cause asthma symptoms despite taking allergy shots.
There’s no cure for asthma. Once you have this chronic condition, you may have asthma symptoms for life. However, the severity of your symptoms varies based on:
It’s possible for your asthma to enter remission, where you may not have problems for several months or years.
It’s still important to take your long-term controller medications as directed, and to have a quick-relief inhaler on hand in case your symptoms return.