asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is an inflammation of the airways that makes breathing difficult. It is characterised by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm. More than two million Australians are affected by asthma.

How do I know if I have asthma? What are the symptoms?

  1. A dry cough, especially at night, early in the morning and with exercise or activity
  2. Wheezing or whistling sound with breathing
  3. Breathlessness
  4. Chest tightness

A person may exhibit just one or more of these symptoms. Children may describe symptoms as a sore tummy, sore chest or a frog in their throat.

Taking control of your asthma

UAsthma cannot be cured, but can be well controlled with medicines, allowing a person to live a normal active life, free of symptoms. It mainly involves managing asthma triggers and the correct use of asthma medication (relievers, symptom controllers and preventers). Special breathing exercises may also help.

  1. Develop a personalised Asthma Action Plan. The better informed you are about your condition, the better control you will have over your asthma symptoms. You and your doctor should come up with a plan that addresses:
    • Ways to identify and avoid your asthma triggers
    • Medications to prevent symptoms as well as to use for quick relief for flare-ups
    • A guideline to identify when you are doing well and when you need to seek help
  2. Always carry a reliever inhaler. There will be situations where you are exposed to triggers that are not within your control, thus it is better to be safe than sorry. If you need to use your reliever more than three times each week (excluding before exercise), your asthma may not be as well controlled as it could be.
  3. Make sure you know how to use your inhaler properly. There’s no point having the right medication if you aren’t taking it effectively. Get your inhaler technique checked every 6 months and do not be shy to ask your pharmacist to show you the proper way to use it.
  4. Exercise regularly. Always warm up and, if necessary, use your reliever or symptom controller before exercise.
  5. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before stopping or starting any medicines, including non-prescription and complementary medicines.
  6. Teach your family, friends and co-workers First Aid for asthma. Get them informed! The more they understand, the better equipped they are to take control should emergency situations arise.
  7. Don't smoke and avoid other people's smoke.

First Aid for Asthma

  1. Sit the person comfortably upright. Be calm and reassuring. Do not leave them alone.
  2. Give four puffs of a reliever inhaler (puffer) - Ventolin, Airomor, Bricanyl or Asmol. Relievers are best given through a spacer, if available. Use one puff at a time and ask the person to take 4 breaths from the spacer after each puff. Use the person's own inhaler if possible. If not, use the First Aid kit inhaler or borrow one from someone else.
  3. Wait for four minutes. If there is no improvement, give another four puffs.
  4. If little or no improvement, CALL AN AMBULANCE IMMEDIATELY (DIAL 000) and state that the person is having an asthma attack. Keep giving four puffs every four minutes until the ambulance arrives. Children : 4 puffs each time is a safe dose. Adults: up to 6-8 puffs every 5 minutes may be given for a severe attack while waiting for the ambulance.

Please visit us in store for advice and product recommendations.

References

PSA Self Care Card & the asthma foundation.

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