Although asthma is an easy diagnosis to make, it is surprising how many people
do not know if anyone in their family has asthma. One of the main reasons this
happens is because doctors often prescribe medication for asthma, but tell the
patient that he has “bronchitis” or “reactive airway disease.” (Reactive airway
disease is a newer term for asthma.) In addition, people with asthma often have
mild symptoms and therefore do not think they have the condition. Here are some
questions to ask if you want to know whether there is a history of asthma in
- Does anyone have reactive airway disease?
- Does anyone use an inhaler when they get colds or before exercise?
- Has anyone have frequent episodes of bronchitis?
- Does anyone cough for 2 or 3 weeks whenever they get a cold? (This is a subtle
sign of undiagnosed asthma.)
If you know your family history in more detail, it may help the next time your
bring your child to the doctor’s office with a chronic cough or other
— Howard J. Bennett, M.D.