Can Asthma Make You Live Longer?
Mom used to say people with diseases live longer. Perhaps she said it to allay my fears, yet I think she really believed it.
Now that I’m the same age as my mom was back them, I think I agree with her. I think people with certain diseases – like asthma – can certainly live longer than healthy people.
Surely you might think I’m nuts by saying this, and perhaps I am. Yet there’s a method to my madness, and my mom’s madness too perhaps.
When I asked mom what she meant she said that people with diseases tend to take care of themselves better than people who are healthy. People who are sick don’t take their health for granted. Surely there’s some truth to that.
My mom wasn’t just talking about asthma either. She had high blood pressure and my Aunt Gay had diabetes. Again, while you might think my mom was nuts – while you might think I’m nuts – I still think my mother was onto something.
No studies have ever been done on this subject (that I’m aware of), so I’m merely speculating here. Yet consider the following things that people with diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma have to do to stay healthy:
- Eat healthy
- Exercise regularly
- Stay stress free
- Learn relaxation tools
- Take medicine compliantly
- Stay away from pollutants – like cigarette smoke
- Think about their bodies even when they are feeling good
- They must never take their health for granted
- Feel vulnerable and therefore turn to spirituality
Those last two I think are key. People with diseases cannot take anything for granted. Yet if you’ve never been sick a day in your life, you might just take your life for granted.
Hence, if you take your health for granted, you might take up smoking, something known to shorten lives. You might abuse alcohol, something known to shorten lives. You might abuse drugs, something known to shorten lives.
If you take your health for granted you might not exercise and not eat healthy. While you may have good health now, your own habits may be your own demise. Asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and other such diseases force us to take our health seriously and not take it for granted.
Even doctors prior to the turn of the 20th century considered asthma to be a disease that was annoying yet rarely fatal unless accompanied by some other malady, like heart failure or pneumonia.
As a matter of fact, some believed asthma to actually make you live longer. Consider the following quote by Walter Hayle Walsh from 1871:
“Spasmotic asthma not only does not directly destroy, but is compatible with remarkable prolongation of life:the popular addage likens the possession of the disease to a 'lease of long life.’”
So do you still think I’m nuts? Let me know what you think. I personally think mom was on to something.
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).