People are being reminded to take control of their asthma this National Asthma Week, after a recent survey by Asthma Foundation New South Wales revealed that more than 70% of people are still struggling to manage the condition.
Asthma Australia CEO Mark Brooke said that the results of the survey exposed the lack of control asthma sufferers feel like they have over their condition, despite the amount of medical assistance out there.
“Our results highlight there are still many people struggling to control their asthma, which is having a major physical, psychological, financial and social impact on peoples’ lives,” he said.
“Worryingly, two in five people who thought they had well or completely controlled asthma actually only had partial or poor control and almost a quarter of adults stated they had experienced an asthma attack in the last week.
“Additionally, 63% of adults felt asthma limits their ability to do daily activities and a further 50% of parents/carers of children felt that asthma has impacted on their child being able to live a full and active life.”
Fortunately, there are a range of treatment options for asthma sufferers that allow people to lead high-functioning, healthy lives. If you’re a sufferer or you think you may have asthma, read on to find out the signs and symptoms, and how to properly manage the condition.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects one in 10 Australians. People with asthma have sensitive airways. When a person with asthma is having an asthma flare-up, the muscles around the airway squeeze tight, the airways swell and become narrow and there is more mucus, making it hard to breathe. Asthma is often a life-long condition, with no cure, so people with the condition must learn to manage symptoms.
The most common asthma symptoms are:
- Coughing, especially at night
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Struggling to breathe
Most people with asthma have certain triggers that bring on asthma symptoms. Everyone’s asthma is different, and triggers vary from person to person. Common triggers include:
- Allergy triggers such as pollens, dust or pets
- Cigarette smoke
- Viral infections
- Changes in weather
For most people, if asthma is well controlled then triggers are not a problem.
Taking Control of Asthma
According to Mr. Brooke, “Many people put up with asthma symptoms unnecessarily but most people with asthma are able to manage their condition and live full and active lives.”
All types of asthma are able to be controlled – even if you consider your asthma to be severe. The trick with asthma is to create a good management plan with your doctor. This plan will factor in your personal triggers and level of asthma.
Asthma Australia offers the following checklist in which you can self-evaluate if your asthma is well controlled:
- Have you been waking at night because of your asthma symptoms?
- Do you need your reliever medication more than three times per week?
- Do you get wheezy or breathless, or have difficulty breathing during the day?
- Does your asthma interfere with your usual activities?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, Asthma Australia says that your asthma may not be as well controlled as it could be.
Wondering what to do next if you’ve answered yes? Mr. Brookes recommends the following:
“Some of the key elements to good asthma management are taking your asthma medicines as prescribed by your GP, having your asthma regularly reviewed and knowing how to use your inhaler correctly. We also strongly recommend people have an Asthma Action Plan so they know how to respond when their asthma flares up,” he said.
“When asthma is well-managed, people should be able to live full and active lives and achieve almost anything.”
For more information on National Asthma Week, visit Asthma Australia’s website.