Your Health is Your Wealth: Asthma

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Wellbeing - By Dr. Ashraf Mina

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic, gen­er­ally re­versible dis­ease of the air­ways. Peo­ple with asthma have sen­si­tive air­ways which can react to par­ti­cles in the air. The tiny air­ways in the lungs con­strict, the lin­ing of these air­ways be­come swollen and mu­cus is pro­duced.

What are the symp­toms of asthma?

• Wheez­ing – a con­tin­u­ous, high pitched sound com­ing from the chest while breath­ing

• Short­ness of breath – a feel­ing of not be­ing able to get enough air

• A feel­ing of tight­ness in the chest

• Cough­ing

Di­ag­no­sis

You do not have to have all of the above symp­toms to be di­ag­nosed with asthma. If you sus­pect that you may have asthma, it is im­por­tant that you visit your doc­tor. Most im­por­tantly, your doc­tor will pro­vide you with a per­son­alised asthma ac­tion plan that in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on your asthma med­i­ca­tion and what to do in an asthma emer­gency.

First aid for asthma

Signs you are hav­ing an asthma at­tack:

• You have in­creas­ing wheez­ing, cough, chest tight­ness or short­ness of breath

• You are wak­ing of­ten at night with asthma symp­toms

• You need to use your re­liever in­haler again within 3 hours

• Visit the Na­tional Asthma Coun­cil Aus­tralia for the four steps of asthma first aid.

When is it an asthma emer­gency?

• Your symp­toms get worse very quickly • You have se­vere short­ness of breath, can’t speak com­fort­ably or lips look blue

• You get lit­tle or no re­lief from your re­liever in­haler

• Call and am­bu­lance in an Asthma emer­gency by di­alling 000.

Asthma med­i­ca­tion

Your doc­tor may pre­scribe you asthma med­i­ca­tion which can be a re­liever plus or mi­nus a pre­ven­ter. En­sure that you use your medicines cor­rectly ask your doc­tor, clinic nurse or phar­ma­cist to demon­strate. Re­gard­less of the med­i­ca­tion make sure you have an up-to-date asthma ac­tion plan.

What are asthma trig­gers?

Asthma trig­gers can be dif­fer­ent from one person to an­other. Com­mon trig­gers in­clude: vi­ral in­fec­tions – colds and flu, house dust mites, an­i­mal dan­der, pollen from grasses, trees and flow­ers – high pollen counts can make asthma worse, moulds, cold air, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, some medicines, cig­a­rette smoke, air pol­lu­tion and work-re­lated chem­i­cals.

What is the re­la­tion be­tween asthma and al­lergy?

Al­lergy oc­curs when a person's im­mune sys­tem re­acts to sub­stances in the en­vi­ron­ment that are harm­less for most peo­ple. These sub­stances are known as al­ler­gens and are found in house dust mites, pets, pollen, moulds, foods and some medicines.

Asthma and al­ler­gies are closely linked be­cause al­ler­gens can cause in­flam­ma­tion of the air­ways and trig­ger asthma symp­toms. More than 8 in 10 peo­ple with asthma are af­fected by al­lergy. I will cover hay fever in the next is­sue.

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