Asthma is a chronic condition of the airways and lungs. People living with asthma can find managing their condition challenging, as the symptoms vary from mild to severe.

Asthma is widespread, with 1 in 12 adults living with the condition. Because the symptoms of asthma can significantly affect a person’s quality of life, the law considers asthma as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This article looks at the situation surrounding asthma and its classification as a disability. It also explores the symptoms, causes, and treatment options associated with asthma and what people can expect if they live with this chronic health condition.

An inhaler, which a person can use to treat asthma.Share on Pinterest
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Yes, current laws classify asthma as a disability.

In 1990, Congress passed the ADA. It designed this federal law to protect people from discrimination based on disability.

As the ADA and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act explain, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that negatively affects one or more major life activities. These activities include walking, working, and going about daily life.

Originally, guidelines stated that an individual must continuously experience these symptoms for the law to classify them as having a disability. So, until 2008, the law did not recognize asthma as a disability because its symptoms are not always present. Those with asthma may only experience symptoms when they encounter a trigger.

However, the ADA modified its definition of a disability in the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). The act stated that the definition of disability should include conditions with symptoms that are only present at certain times.

Asthma is one condition that fits this amendment, meaning that the law now classifies it as a disability. Even if someone’s asthma symptoms only begin with exposure to a trigger, anyone with asthma, by definition, has a disability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a disability is any condition of the mind or body that causes someone to limit their activities and how they participate in daily life.

Depending on the individual, this could include difficulty hearing, seeing, problem solving, or walking.

The person may experience restrictions in daily activities such as:

  • engaging in social activities
  • participating in recreational activities
  • working
  • obtaining healthcare and preventive services

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes continuous inflammation in the lung’s airways. With this continual inflammation, the airways can become even more swollen, and any minor trigger can cause the airways to constrict.

As a result, a person with asthma may find it difficult to breathe, resulting in:

Doctors do not yet understand the exact cause of asthma, but it is often the result of a strong immune response to something in the lungs.

Managing the triggers and taking medications to reduce and prevent the symptoms are the foundations of asthma treatment. Another main component of proper treatment is having an asthma action plan that clearly lists medications and actions that someone should take depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Available medications for those with asthma include inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) and long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs). People can use ICSs on their own, or they can pair them with a LABA to help control asthma.

Asthma is common, but it can cause severe issues if a person does not use the correct medication or take other measures to manage the condition.

After receiving a diagnosis of asthma, it is essential that a person meets with a doctor to establish an asthma action plan.

Although there is currently no cure for this condition, preparing an asthma action plan helps an individual manage their symptoms. Having an effective asthma action plan in place helps control any flare-ups and could drastically improve someone’s quality of life.

People can work with a doctor to find out how to manage asthma by themselves. Because asthma can present with various symptoms, it is important to know which medications work best at that time. An asthma action plan identifies the most appropriate medication for someone’s specific symptoms and presents all the information in one place.

An asthma action plan shows different zones depending on the severity of someone’s symptoms. These zones are green, yellow, and red.

  • The green zone means that the individual has no symptoms.
  • The yellow zone means that some symptoms — such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or tightening in the chest — are present. It is at this stage that a person may take quick relief medications.
  • If symptoms persist, or if those symptoms interfere with daily activities, the individual enters the red zone. It is at this stage that they need urgent medical advice.

One thing that helps reduce the effects of asthma is avoiding triggers. However, this is not always feasible, depending on what each person’s triggers are. Another thing that individuals with asthma can do is maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Asthma can have significant health consequences for both children and adults. Some of these consequences include severe symptoms that can be life threatening and lead to asthma-related death.

For this reason, proper management of asthma is vital. People with asthma can live fulfilling lives if they follow their treatment plans and update them regularly. Doing so can also significantly increase the person’s quality of life.

A disability is any condition that affects a person’s daily life activities. Symptoms do not have to be present at all times for a condition to qualify as a disability. Because of this, the law now classifies asthma as a disability.

Asthma is a severe immune response to a trigger. It can cause wheezing, coughing, and other breathing issues.

Possible treatment options include removing the triggers and taking medications such as ICSs, either by themselves or with LABAs. Also, an asthma action plan details an individual’s triggers and the medications they need at each stage of an asthma episode.

There is currently no cure for asthma, so it is crucial to manage the symptoms and minimize the triggers.