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Asthma Treatment – What you need to know

Updated: Jun 2

You have landed on this blog because you want to know more about Asthma and treatment?!

It is a medical condition that affects the airways. Approximately 2.7 million Aussies are affected (1). It isn’t something that is in your head’ as some people may have you believe.


It is not a psychological condition; it is a medical one.


The common symptoms you may see are:


· wheezing,

· shortness of breath,

· coughing,

· chest tightness

· fatigue (2)


These symptoms are brought on by the narrowing of the airways.


For people who are afflicted, the actual physical narrowing of the airways is what causes the difficulty to breathe.


Woman experiencing pain in chest

Can you imagine how that would feel to have your airways restricted and feeling as if you were unable to breathe?

Many people also think asthma is related to a childhood condition and as you grow up, you simply grow out of it. That is not accurate, there is no cure, and whilst many may appear to have symptoms that seem to dissipate as they become an adult, it may be just a case of better management, a healthier lifestyle, and regular medical reviews.


Whilst a person may have many years of being seemingly asthma-free it may return at any time to varying degrees; however, it is a condition that remains with you for life. Equally, you may find that as an adult you may experience adult on-set Asthma, even though you never experienced it as a child.


Whilst it is a life-long condition and may affect people very differently, it can generally be well controlled.


There is an ongoing myth that exercise is not good for managing asthma and may in fact bring it on. It is true that some types of physical activity may trigger an asthma flare-up or attack, but this shouldn’t be reason to avoid a fit and healthy lifestyle.


I know many people who have struggled with this very common medical condition growing up and they found certain types of exercise such as swimming, was an ideal exercise for them to better manage their condition. I would encourage you to explore what works for you.

What causes asthma?


The causes are not known, however there are many common triggers that have been identified such as:


·Environmental triggers – such as exposure to:

-chemicals,

-smoke,

-air pollution,

-dust,

-grasses,

-pollens,

-mould (think about the effect of the recent flooding in Australia and the ongoing impact of mould)

- change in the weather has impact – e.g., heat, cold and thunderstorms

field-of-allergens
The environment can trigger an asthma flare up

· Physical triggers – such as:

- exercise,

- being obese (thought to cause increased inflammation)

- allergies (which may run in your family)

- our sweet pets!


man-running
Whilst excercise can trigger asthma - it shouldn't be excluded from your life. Find what works for you

What other triggers are happening in Australia?


Thunderstorm asthma


We saw this occur in Victoria where a serious thunderstorm asthma epidemic was triggered in Melbourne. A combination of very high pollen counts mixed with abnormal weather conditions. Hasn’t the east coast of Australia felt these crazy abnormal weather conditions!


The resultant mix of storm and pollen count saw emergency departments overrun with thousands of casualties and sadly 10 deaths. That must have been truly frightening and devastating for those families and communities affected. This helps us to understand we should take our approach seriously and to also look closely to asthma first aid treatment very seriously.


thunderstorm-asthma-warning
Australia saw the devastating impact of thunderstorms mixed with a high pollen count

Education for everyone is crucially important

COVID-19 impacts

Since the start of the pandemic the messaging has been the same - if you have severe or uncontrolled asthma it may be a factor that worsens COVID-19 outcomes. The key here is keeping things well-controlled. Ideally you should be following an asthma plan and have consistent medical reviews with your doctor.


Woman wearing a surgical mask

Asthma first aid treatment (including some First Aid hacks)


Let’s get real - Many people don’t carry a puffer, let alone a spacer or follow their asthma Management plan (or even have a plan!)


How can someone help, when you can only get 1- 2 words out per breath?


Getting access to reliever medication is crucial:


Using Ventolin without a spacer:

· This is okay for a mild attack

· Up to 50% of the medication hits the back of the throat and goes into the stomach.

Why should you use a spacer? (A spacer is a large plastic container with a mouthpiece at one end and a hole for the inhaler at the other)


· The casualty will get the full dose - in slow and measured breaths.

· Spacers are getting smaller, you can even purchase pop up disposable spacers


What if you don’t have a spacer and need to improvise!

· Jab the puffer through a hole in the bottom of a disposable cup and you have a spacer! You can do the same with a water bottle.


What do you need to know about asthma first aid?


It is critically important that First aiders at workplaces or school staff be trained to manage a medical emergency. Children may experience a flare-up or attack and have never shown a symptom previously!


It can be very serious.

Let’s look at the steps for treatment…..


- Sit the casualty down and try and get them to calm

- Put the ventolin/asmol puffer into the spacer and give it a shake

- Ask the casualty to take 4 breaths

- Then repeat the process 3 more times

- Then wait 4 minutes, if they are not getting relief, call 000 and repeat the process


1 X SHAKE,

4 BREATHS,

4 TIMES,

WAIT 4 MINUTES


Let F.A.S.T. First Aid Training help your business with your First Aid Training.



Contact us to book in for your course today.


Be sure to download our First Aid Fact Sheet about treatment to keep at the ready.


If you want more information, check out the National Asthma Council Australia website and our blog - 10 Shocking Facts about Asthma




First Aid Fact Sheet_Asthma emergency
.pdf
Download PDF • 300KB


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References:

1. 2017–18 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS) (ABS 2018)

2. National Asthma Council of Australia – 2019a


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