Asthma 101: everything you need to know
to correctly manage your condition.
Asthma is a long-term lung condition. While 1 in 9 people have been diagnosed with asthma in Australia, the majority of those that suffer from the condition do not manage it correctly. This is particularly the case for asthmatics when using their inhalers. This overview will provide you with the information you will need to understand the basics of asthma and how you can better manage your condition.
What is asthma?
First, let’s get on the same page. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs. These airways are susceptible to triggers that cause a ‘flare-up’. In a flare-up, the airways swell and become narrow because the muscles around the airway squeeze tight. This will create more mucus and results in difficulty in breathing.
A person’s asthma symptoms can vary over time and vary from person to person. The common symptoms are:
a tight feeling in the chest
a continuing cough
People with asthma will typically experience symptoms earlier in the morning or at night. They might also experience symptoms during or shortly after physical activity.
How to manage your asthma.
We encourage our patients to follow a daily management plan. By following their own tailored plan, our patients often only occasionally experience or have no symptoms. If you experience symptoms on a regular basis, please consult a clinic nurse or your doctor.
As with any condition, one of your first steps is understanding how the condition affects you specifically. When it comes to asthma, an easy and cost effective test is spirometry. This test will measure your lungs function (e.g. volume of air, flow/speed of air, etc.), determining your breathing pattern.
The clinic nurse or doctor will also help you understand what triggers cause your body to react and sparks an asthma episode. Together, you’ll identify ways to avoid or mitigate your asthma triggers.
These different data points will help form your daily management plan. The more you follow the plan, the better you’ll manage your asthma and the severity of your reactions will lower. It’s important that you book a follow-up to review your plan after 3-4 months. By noting down the effectiveness of your plan, together with your clinic nurse or doctor, you can make adjustments to improve your care.
How to use a puffer and spacer.
During your consult, a clinic nurse or doctor may ask you to demonstrate how you use your inhaler. You might have the process wrong — don’t worry, only 10% of Australians get it right! That is why it is important that you check the instructions with your clinic nurse or doctor. If you can’t see your healthcare professional anytime soon, head over to the National Asthma Council Australia website. Keep in mind that these are general tips and are not tailored for the specific make/model/type of puffer and spacer you have. That is why we always advise that you consult a clinic nurse or doctor.
What to do now?
We always encourage that you visit your local clinic’s healthcare professional to develop a plan, to ask any burning questions relating to your asthma and to ensure that you use your medication correctly.
If you would like to learn more or want to develop your own plan, book an appointment today and our friendly GPs and staff will be more than happy to guide you through the process.