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Managing your Asthma

By Asthma, Chronic Disease

Asthma can be confusing because it means different things to different people – from wheezing after a short run, to being admitted to hospital. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with asthma, it’s important to know that asthma is a manageable condition. While there might not be a cure, here are some key areas that can help you get control over the symptoms.

Asthma action plan

An asthma action plan is written in conjunction with your doctor, and tells you what medications you should take, how to tell if your asthma is getting worse, what to do if you have worsening symptoms, and what to do in the event of an asthma attack. If you find that you are having symptoms more than once or twice a week, your asthma could probably be better controlled. Chat to your GP about starting or updating your plan, as your needs will change over time.

Correctly using your inhaler

If you do not use your inhaler correctly, you will not get the full dose of medicine – and up to 90% of people are thought to be using their puffers incorrectly. There are many different types of inhalers available, so there is potential for change if your current model is not working for you. Spacers can also be used help you get the whole dose of medicine, so children should always use a spacer for both preventative and reliever puffers, and adults may be recommended to use them with preventative puffers. There are different types of spacers as well, so work with your doctor to find the right combination for you.

Identifying triggers

Asthma can be triggered by many factors or combination of factors. It could be a cold that you catch, something you inhale such cold air or irritants in the air, strong emotions, physical activity, food or alternative medicines, or other factors in your environment.

Some triggers you should avoid, such as smoking and air pollution inside. Some you can’t really avoid, such as catching a cold or stress – but you should try to minimise your risks. Other triggers like exercise, sex and laughing shouldn’t be avoided. If you find these triggers are causing asthma episodes, you and your doctor should consider a change in your management plan and medication so you can maintain your quality of life.

Complimentary therapies

There are some well-researched practices that you can speak with your doctor about using to help manage your asthma. Caffeine has been shown to increase lung capacity, and there are some promising signs that eucalyptus oils can help. Other therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicines and supplements, breathing exercises and hypnosis may also help, but do not have enough evidence to say with certainty that they are safe and effective.

Managing your symptoms is a team effort. If you would like a review of your asthma management plan, talk with your GP to discuss what could work for you.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss asthma management –>

Clearing the Air – 4 Common Misconceptions about Asthma

By Asthma, Chronic Disease

World Asthma Day is a great opportunity to highlight the campaigns around the world that educate people about asthma, and to recognise the 1 in 9 Australians of all ages and ethnicities who live with this condition every day. Sadly, there is a lot of false information around about this condition. Let’s look at some common misconceptions about asthma.

Is asthma just an allergic reaction?

Asthma is a long-term lung condition that is caused by sensitive airways, not normally an allergic reaction (although allergy-induced asthma does occur). People can have their asthma triggered by common allergens such as pollen, dust mites or air pollution – but other triggers can also include exercise and cold air. Each person is different.

People with asthma can’t breathe properly, right?

When the sensitive airways of someone with asthma are exposed to a range of “triggers”, the muscles around the airways tighten up and they produce more mucous, making it much harder to breathe. When this occurs, we call it an “asthma attack”. A person with asthma who is not having an attack still has sensitive airways, but most often they breathe quite normally. With medication and good management, many people with asthma are able to live normal lives.

All asthma attacks look the same, don’t they?

Most asthma attacks include a range of different symptoms like tightening of the chest, troubled breathing, coughing and wheezing – some attacks bring up mucous, some don’t. Asthma attacks can worsen over weeks or occur in minutes. Asthma attacks are often different for the same person! Even the meaning of the word “attack” can change – for some people it might mean some difficulty breathing, while in others it means hospitalisation.

Doesn’t asthma go away as you get older? Can’t it be cured?

Sadly, asthma is a life-long condition, although it often does start in childhood. There is no cure, but there are a range of medications that can help keep asthma under control. Even during a bad attack, the tightness in the airways is almost always reversible with medical attention. Each person with asthma should work with their GP and specialists to develop their own plan for managing their asthma and avoiding attacks.

There are many excellent resources that can provide more information about asthma and asthma management. If you suspect that someone might have asthma, talk to your GP. If you have already been diagnosed, your GP can discuss different management strategies that can help you to take control of your asthma symptoms.

Click here to book in and discuss Asthma with a GP –>

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