Uncontrolled Asthma’s Effects Over Time
Asthma is a chronic illness that—though it can be controlled—never truly goes away. That’s why understanding the potential long-term consequences is important for knowing how to limit the effects on your health.
How Uncontrolled Asthma Can Affect Your Long-Term Health
When uncontrolled, asthma can negatively affect your health in the long term. Each symptom can affect your health in different ways. You should talk to your doctor about possible long-term effects so you can create a management plan that works for you.
Possible Long-Term Effects of Uncontrolled Asthma
Airway and Lung Damage
Airway and lung damage, also known as airway remodeling, is a long-term process where chronic and uncontrolled inflammation from uncontrolled asthma causes irreversible scarring of the lungs and airways.
Disrupted Sleep Schedule
Asthma restricts airways and can cause nighttime coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness, potentially interfering with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Pregnant women with severe, uncontrolled asthma may experience serious complications that could endanger both mother and child. These complications can include high blood pressure and a related condition known as preeclampsia, as well as premature delivery. Decreased fetal oxygen levels caused by uncontrolled asthma can also cause pregnancy failures.
Severe Asthma Exacerbations
Uncontrolled asthma can lead to severe exacerbations, or asthma attacks, that may require oral corticosteroids, an emergency room visit, or hospitalization. A rescue inhaler may be needed several times a day.
Increased Risk of Infection
People with uncontrolled asthma may have a higher risk of developing pneumonia due to previous lung damage or weakness of the lung tissue. Try to prevent getting pneumonia by avoiding sick people, washing your hands often, and talk to your doctor about vaccination against pneumonia if appropriate.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Asthma increases the risk of GERD because asthma flare-ups can cause the stomach’s entrance, or esophageal sphincter, to open, allowing stomach acid to go up into the esophagus. In addition to being harmful to the esophagus and airways in the long term, GERD can also make asthma worse by irritating your lungs and airways.
Uncontrolled asthma may cause people to experience symptoms like shortness of breath or wheezing every day—symptoms that can make exercise and weight loss efforts difficult.
Know the Warning Signs
It’s important for you and your loved ones to understand and be able to recognize potential warning signs that can indicate an asthma attack.