Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

YouTube May Not Be the Best Source for Asthma Info…


by Mike Shoemaker, BHA, RRT-NPS, AE-C

It’s no secret that people frequently turn to the Internet for health information. Recent research by the Pew Research Center shows that approximately one in three adults has gone online to try to diagnose a medical condition. People also turn to the Internet looking for alternative treatments.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to tell the difference between good, safe, medical information and information that may be inaccurate, unproven, and in some cases harmful. The information available to people with asthma is one such example.

A study from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology showed that some of the most-viewed YouTube videos related to asthma did not, in fact, score well in terms of medical accuracy. Some videos claimed to demonstrate methods to overcome asthma flare-ups without medications. Others suggested treatments such as ingesting live fish, reflexology, eating raw foods, gluten-free diets, marijuana, and salt therapy, none of which are scientifically proven to prevent, control, or cure asthma.

So, is it ever a good idea to turn to the Internet for information about asthma or other conditions? Absolutely! In fact, I do just that quite often.

The Internet has a nearly limitless supply of information, and with a careful approach you can easily find information that will help you get your asthma under control. Following several simple steps will help you decide when the information you see on YouTube (or other Internet sites) is valid and likely to prove helpful, and when the information should be “taken with a grain of salt.”

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did the person create this video or web page?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • Are they trying to sell me something? (This is a big red flag!).

Second, determine what you know about the author(s) or “video star(s).”

  • Do they identify themselves?
  • Can you find other information about their background or experiences?

Third, are you able to find the same information from multiple sources?

  • If one person suggests a nontraditional treatment based on personal experience it would be wise to seek more information.
  • If you see the same information presented in many videos, by different people, it is more likely to be trustworthy. Still, talk with your health care provider before trying anything that was not prescribed for you!

Need some help deciding about the quality of the health information you have discovered either online or in print? Check out the “Trust it or Trash it” evaluation tool at

There are many, many organizations that provide information and videos to help you get, and keep, your asthma under control. Check out some of these sites for great asthma information!

Please be sure to discuss any treatments you are considering with your doctor so that he or she can work with you to create a personalized asthma action plan that will help you keep your asthma under control!

Mike Shoemaker is an AARC member from Anderson, SC, where he serves as manager of respiratory care services at AnMed Health Women’s and Children’s Hospital and site coordinator for the ASME Certified Asthmania Academy.

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