Around 2.5 million Australians have asthma. That’s about 1 in 10 of us. And despite having access to world class health care, around 400 Australians die each year from asthma-related complications. Even worse, it is estimated that about 60% of these could have been prevented. We just need to take it seriously and manage it better. 

What is asthma?

If you have asthma, the airways in your lungs are overly reactive to certain triggers that don’t tend to affect healthy lungs. 

Many people with asthma will have normal breathing a lot of the time. But when you have an asthma flare-up or “attack”, it can be difficult to simply breathe in and out. 

Asthma symptoms occur when the airway linings swell and secrete mucous, and the muscles surrounding the airways spasm and tighten. This causes the airways to narrow, making it hard to breathe. 

What causes asthma? 

While we don’t know why people develop asthma, it often runs in families with asthma, eczema or allergies. It is also known that children are more likely to develop asthma if their mother smoked during pregnancy, or if they are exposed to cigarette smoke early in life. 

What causes asthma? 

While we don’t know why people develop asthma, it often runs in families with asthma, eczema or allergies. It is also known that children are more likely to develop asthma if their mother smoked during pregnancy, or if they are exposed to cigarette smoke early in life. 

Symptoms of asthma 

Asthma symptoms often come and go. When they occur, the airways tighten so there is less space to breathe through, leading to:

• Wheezing – a high-pitched whistle or raspy sound when breathing 

• Chest tightness 

• Shortness of breath 

• Dificulty breathing

• Coughing – especially at night

If you have asthma, you may experience all of these symptoms, or only a few.

Triggers for asthma symptoms

Asthma symptoms are usually made worse by ‘triggers’, such as: 

• Colds and flu 

• Cigarette smoke 

• Exercise 

• Allergens – pollens, moulds, animals and dust mites

• Environmental factors – dust, pollution, wood smoke, and bush fires

• Changes in temperature and weather 

• Some medicines – aspirin, anti-inflammatories and some blood pressure medications

• Chemicals, strong smells and aerosol sprays – cleaning products and perfumes 

• Emotional factors – laughter, stress 

• Some foods and food preservatives, flavourings and colourings (rare)

Asthma is different for everyone.  You may not react to some or all of the triggers in the above list.  But it can be helpful to identify what triggers your asthma – then your doctor can incorporate preventative responses into your Asthma Action Plan.

Treatment for asthma

Although there is no “cure” for asthma, it is a completely manageable health condition. 

With good management, most people with asthma can lead normal, active lives, with minimal or even no asthma symptoms.

The key is using your medicines correctly. Medicines are essential to managing asthma well.

Many people think they have asthma only when they have asthma symptoms. But in fact, your airways are always sensitive and your airways are constantly inflamed when you don’t take regular preventer treatment. 

Another crucial part of asthma management is the Asthma Management Plan. Everyone with asthma should have their own personalised written asthma action plan to follow that includes instructions for when they are well and whenever symptoms worsen. 

Tips to achieve good asthma management

• Take your asthma medications as prescribed – even when you feel well

• Obtain (and follow) a written Asthma Action Plan from your doctor 

• Enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle

• Identify and manage your triggers 

• Get a FREE inhaler technique check at Direct Chemist Outlet

For more information on asthma management, and how-to-use-your-inhaler-correctly video guides, visit www.nationalasthma.org.au

 

Your Asthma Action Plan

Your doctor can create a personalised written asthma action plan for you. 

The idea is to help you recognise worsening asthma so you can take early action and prevent or reduce a flare-up. 

 

Are you confident with your inhaler technique?

Even people who have been using their inhalers for years may have room to improve…  one Australian study found that 6 out of 7 confident inhaler users were mistaken in thinking they had the correct technique.


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.