Asthma is a common chronic disease of the airways affecting up to 18% of people.
Asthma causes symptoms such as;
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness and/or cough worsened by factors such as allergens or exercise.
The symptoms are associated with difficulty in breathing air out of the lungs due to airway narrowing, airway wall thickening, and increased mucus.
This is a result of ongoing inflammation and hyper-responsiveness of the airways to trigger factors.
What are the factors that may trigger or worsen asthma symptoms?
- Viral infections
- Allergens, such as house dust mites, pollen, cockroaches
- Certain drugs, e.g. beta-blockers, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Tobacco smoke
- Change in weather
Poorly controlled asthma
Poorly controlled asthma increases your risk of an asthma attack (also known as an asthma flare-up or exacerbation).
Asthma attacks can occur even in people taking asthma treatment.
Factors that may increase your risk of an asthma attack include;
- Relying too much on short-acting reliever medication to control your symptoms
- Not using your inhaled corticosteroid as prescribed or not being prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid
- Uncontrolled asthma symptoms
- Incorrect inhaler technique of the inhaled corticosteroid
- Continuous exposure to trigger factors, i.e. smoke
- Conditions such as obesity, sinusitis or a confirmed food allergy
- One or more severe asthma attacks in the last 12 months
- Having ever been incubated or admitted to the intensive care unit for asthma treatment
What you can do to keep your asthma under control.
- It is important to take your asthma treatment every day as prescribed, even when you are feeling well
- Regular check-ups and medication reviews with your doctor to determine the medication and dose needed to control your asthma
- Check with your doctor/pharmacist that your inhaler technique is correct.
- Limit your exposure to trigger factors, such as tobacco smoking, pollution and allergens
- Engage in regular physical activity and follow a healthy diet that includes fruit and vegetables
- Sign up for a weight reduction plan.
- Reduce your stress through relaxation and breathing exercises
- Avoid medicines that may make your asthma worse, e.g. Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs