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Can You Have Asthma In The Military

Asthma Reports From Other Countries

Can You Have Asthma In the Army or National Guard?

Sears et al determined that persistence or relapse of asthma among New Zealand children were associated with sensitization to house dust mite antigen, presence of airway hyperresponsiveness, current cigarette smoking and early age of asthma onset. Asthma relapses were common among ex-asthmatics showing persistent respiratory symptomatology. Asymptomatic airway hyperresponsiveness may be a feature of some cases of quiescent asthma that enter the military.

According to Taylor et al, who followed New Zealand children over time, 35% had asthma in remission at 18 years of age but relapsed by 21 or 26 years of age. Totally, new adult asthma developed by 26 years of age in 9% of study members who reportedly had no asthma or wheezing at any time up to 18 years of age.

In a 1988 study by the British Army, 6.3% of annual medical discharges were attributed to asthma. About 43% of 108 discharged soldiers were ultimately shown to have a history of asthma in childhood. Nearly 30% of military service persons discharged because of asthma denied having asthma in childhood.

In an Australian population, undiagnosed asthma was common and had a similar clinical spectrum as individuals with diagnosed asthma. Service in combat units tended to unmask previously mild cases of asthma that were not disabling and induced asthma in subjects who had never suffered from the disease. It was recommended that candidates with a history of asthma should not be accepted before the age of 22 years.

Medical Records And Exams

When enlisting in any branch of the military, there is a point where you must undergo a medical examination, as well as a review of medical records by experts in the field.

As part of your initial request, you must declare any medical deficiencies and disclose related documentation showing the extent of the disorder.

Previously, asthma was an automatic disqualifying factor upon joining the military.

This means that it was not a factor that could be waived, which means that no matter what, you cannot enter.

With competition for benefits and wages in the civilian job market and ever-changing politics, branches like the Air Force and Navy decided to find ways to allow more people in and essentially increase their numbers.

Who Can Get Asthma

Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.

Statistics show women tend to have asthma more than men, and asthma affects Black Americans more frequently than other races.

When a child develops asthma, healthcare providers call it childhood asthma. If it develops later in life, its adult-onset asthma.

Children do not outgrow asthma. They may have fewer symptoms as they get older, but they could still have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

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Surprising Medical Conditions That Will Disqualify You From Military Service

A medical waiver may be in the cards.

BySarah Sicard | Updated Jul 19, 2021 3:31 PM

In order to join the military, you need to qualify medically. And while there are some obvious stipulations, like the fact that you cant be carrying diseases that will endanger your platoon, there are other disqualifying conditions that might surprise you.

All the disqualifying diseases, disorders, and conditions adopted by the U.S. military are listed within the International Classification of Disease code, under the United Nations World Health Organization.

Task & Purpose reached out to Lt. Michele Stein, a Navy recruiter, who shared some lesser-known medical conditions, and in some cases, ways you can get around them. In addition, Stein also asked around her station in Tucson, Arizona, for crazy, surprising medical disqualification stories. We compiled our favorites, and here are six unusual conditions that can keep you from joining the military.

Whats The Difference Between Temporary Vs Permanent Disqualifications

Asthma And Military Service

A temporary disqualification is something that temporarily prevents you from serving.

For example, breaking a foot inhibits you from carrying out the functions for duty.

However, a broken foot will heal and with time the problem is no longer existent.

Those with a temporary disqualification do not need to apply for a waiver.

They simply need to wait and let time heal the problem.

On the other hand, a permanent disqualification is something that will not go away with time.

The health condition is sometimes correctly through surgery or with medication.

Regardless, you need a military medical waiver to receive permission to enlist.

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Can You Join The Military With A Medical Condition

There are many specific medical conditions that may disqualify you from joining the U.S. Military. These include conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, heart issues, Aspergers, and PTSD. They can provide more specifics regarding the condition, and whether or not youll pass your medical exam at MEPS.

Navys Policy On Asthma In 2019

OMK spoke with Officer Mendoza, a Navy recruiter stationed in Atlanta, Georgia, about the Navys policy on Asthma.

Heres what he had to say:

Its definitely possible to get in the Navy if you were previously diagnosed, but it can be very difficult.; For starters, if you currently have asthma, its not going to work out.

The military has a very strict policy on this; if you are currently being treated for asthma, then you will not be able to serve.

In addition, any history of Asthma after the age of 13 will require a waiver.

The waiver process will happen at your Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.

Before enlisting, youll be required to perform whats known as a pulmonary function test, or PFT.

A PFT is essentially a noninvasive test that shows how well your lungs work.

If you can pass this test, you can join the Navy.

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What Asthma Treatment Options Are There

You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
  • Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
  • Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.

You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.

Air Force Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Can You Join The Army With ADHD or ASTHMA?

The United States Air Force is considered slightly more selective than some of the other military branches.

The branch also factors in the Speciality Code you are seeking, as some USAF jobs require top-secret security clearance or special qualification .

Expect your medical health conditions to be closely analyzed if you are in a position that requires a lot of trust or advanced physical fitness.

Speak to an Air Force recruiter if you have any of the following conditions:


Related Article;Military Disqualifications For Mental Health: 9 Common Conditions

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Some Medical Conditions Arent Eligible For Waivers

I wish I could tell you that all you had to do to get a waiver approved was fill out a form, tell the military you are a hard worker, and get a couple character references. Unfortunately, that isnt the case.

The military has some very firm standards for which types of medical waivers they will approve and will not approve. And the decision is completely out of your hands. And in many cases, you cannot appeal the decision. It is simple and final.

I wont try to list all the medical conditions for which you cannot receive a waiver, because it is extensive. Some common maladies include having a history of asthma, ADD , diabetes, drug dependency, severe nut allergies , problems with certain organs, certain skin conditions, and much more. The best thing to do is download a copy of the DODI mentioned above, and research your medical conditions.

Again: there are some conditions for which there are no waivers.

Moving Forward With Asthma

As a safety measure, members that are allowed in under the new policy for enlisting with Asthma are not allowed to take on combat jobs or jobs that would require them to be subject to respiratory issues.

There are many jobs in the military in which you are not required to be out in the elements.

Some of the jobs may be in the information technology fields, medical fields, and administrative fields.

This allows members with medical issues to still serve their country while keeping their physical health in order.

The Armed Forces previously restricted entering due to Asthma because of the requirements of the training environment in relation to fitness and physical health.

Also, some jobs in the Armed Forces require members to be deployed in areas where the environment may not be conducive to breathing issues.

Moreover, in order to treat Asthma, individuals may be required to take a medication or carry around a steroid inhaler which may not always be available to them.

Applicants that have been diagnosed and experience asthmatic issues after they turn 13 can still attempt to enlist as long as they have all of their medical documentation, are in good cardiovascular shape and possibly be subject to a pulmonary function test in order for a waiver to be considered.

Once accepted in the military, the asthma condition can be better treated with free healthcare for service members.

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What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

A severe asthma attack needs immediate medical care. The first step is your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than your normal maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should only use the rescue inhaler in an emergency.

If your rescue inhaler doesnt help or you dont have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:

  • Anxiety or panic.
  • Bluish fingernails, bluish lips or gray or whitish lips or gums .
  • Chest pain or pressure.

There Is No Appeal Process If Your Waiver Is Denied

Asthma Army Regulations

Here is the deal with waivers you either get a medical waiver or you dont. You cant appeal. The Surgeon Generals office is the appeal. If they deny you the opportunity to serve, then that is the final answer. Writing to your Congressman or Senator wont enhance your chances of joining the service. It just wont happen.

However, depending on your medical condition, there may be other options you can try. For example, each branch of the military, including the Guard and Reserves, has a different Surgeon Generals Office. So if you have a borderline case, you might consider joining another branch of service. You might even consider a career in the Guard or Reserves instead of joining on active duty.

But be careful not to waste everyones time. If your condition is not waiverable, dont go through the application process again it wastes everyones time and money. The only time it is worth going through this process again is if you have medical conditions that are waiverable, but for one reason or another, the branch you applied to decided not to accept you at this time.

There are reasons this can happen. For example, if some branches of the military arent having trouble meeting their quotas, they may not need to take someone with a history of health conditions. All things being equal, they will take the person who doesnt require waivers. .

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Can I Join The Army With Asthma

Another of the most common questions we get is Can I Join the Army with Asthma?. This article answers that question and outlines why asthma may keep you from joining the U.S. Army.

When a person joins the Army, medical history is part of the enlistment process. In addition to providing a detailed medical history, the recruit must also undergo a thorough medical exam by a physician at MEPS .

There are multiple conditions that can disqualify someone from Army service. In the past, it was virtually impossible to serve in the Army if there had been a previous diagnosis of asthma. Asthma is one of those conditions that can be fatal in basic training so those individuals that are not clear cut are not given a waiver. If you have asthma, you are PDQ, no waiver authorized. PDQ stands for Permanently Disqualified for military service.

While current asthma cases are generally not allowed, there have been more leniencies granted towards those who suffered from asthma in the past but are no longer afflicted with the condition.

If the recruit has not had any asthma symptoms or been treated for asthma beyond his 13th birthday, he is generally considered not to have asthma by Army recruitment standards. He will be allowed to join through an enlistment process that is the same as it is for someone who has never had asthma.

The results of a pulmonary function test may also be used in making the decision about a waiver. Any required testing will be provided at no expense to the recruit.

What Are The Requirements To Be Drafted

The Selective Service Act of 1948, enacted in June of that year, created a new and separate system, the basis for the modern system. All men 18 years and older had to register with Selective Service. All men between the ages of 18 to 25 were eligible to be drafted for a service requirement of 21 months.

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Peace Corps And Food Allergies

Due to the lack of available health infrastructure in Peace Corps countries, the Peace Corps typically does not clear applicants who have a variety of allergic conditions, including life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, multiple allergens, multiple antibiotic allergies, poorly controlled asthma, or severe eczema.

While each medical application is assessed on a case-by-case basis, these conditions will likely prevent someones acceptance if they are not likely to complete the 27 months of service required without the threat of unreasonable disruption due to allergic reactions. If a potential volunteer only has mild or moderate non-life-threatening food allergies, it is possible that they will be able to serve after signing a form promising to carry an EpiPen at all times.

Endocrine And Metabolic Disorders

“Joining the Air Force with asthma?”

The following conditions may disqualify you from military service:

a. Adrenal dysfunction of any degree.

b. Diabetes mellitus of any type.

c. Glycosuria. Persistent, when associated with impaired glucose tolerance or renal tubular defects.

d. Acromegaly. Gigantism or other disorder of pituitary function.

e. Gout.

Goiter, persistent or untreated.

Hypothyroidism, uncontrolled by medication.



i. Nutritional deficiency diseases. Such diseases include beriberi, pellagra and scurvy.

j. Other endocrine or metabolic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, porphyria and amyloidosis that obviously prevent satisfactory performance of duty or require frequent or prolonged treatment.

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Example Of Disqualifying Stds

Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis or any unspecified hepatitis can disqualify you from joining the military. If you have symptoms 6 months after your diagnosis or evidence of impaired liver function, theres a good chance viral hepatitis can disqualify you from the military. However, if you receive a medical evaluation and show no signs or symptoms of the disease, you can get an exemption that allows you to serve.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Both acute and chronic pelvic inflammatory diseases can prevent you from joining the military. If youre able to catch the disease early in its development, you can treat it with a course of antibiotics or a hospital stay for severe cases. The longer you wait to get pelvic inflammatory disease treated, the more damage gets done to your reproductive system. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause serious symptoms, which makes it a likely disqualifier for military service.


If you have herpes, youll need to prove that your treatment is effective before being allowed to join the military. Thanks to the advancement of medical technology, herpes is much more treatable today than it was in the past. Soldiers that get herpes while serving are given a course of medication for up to 180 days. If your herpes are severe enough to cause serious symptoms and resist conventional treatment, you likely wont join the military.

What Services Are Available For Asthma In The Military

Because asthma and related respiratory problems can worsen over time, its important that military servicemembers obtain a thorough evaluation of their health in order to help get treatment to control symptoms, even if youre already in the military.

As with signs of any medical condition during military service, asthma symptoms should also be taken seriously. Every effort should be made to determine whether an individual can continue with military service in order to avoid unnecessary risk to their own life or to the lives of others who serve with them.

Medical research supports the involvement of people with asthma in the military with basic treatment for symptoms.

Research from 2015 in Federal Practitioner suggests that most service members with asthma can remain on active duty when management with inhaled therapies that allows them to meet standards and perform required duties.

Researchers involved in this 2015 study also suggest that an asthma diagnosis should be given along with the following tests to confirm the accuracy of the diagnosis:

  • how strongly the airways react to asthma triggers
  • how the heart behaves during asthma diagnosis tests

You may have a greater chance of receiving a waiver if:

  • you are currently being treated for asthma
  • your symptoms appear to be well controlled
  • your symptoms are relatively mild

Poorly controlled symptoms are likely to lead to a waiver disapproval and disqualification from joining the military.

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