Tuesday 2nd May was World Asthma Day. This day is promoted by GINA ( Global Initiative for Asthma) with the theme for 2023 being “Asthma Care for All”.
Asthma WA is focused on providing services throughout WA, utilising telehealth, video conferencing and online platforms as well as our face-to-face clinics in an effort to ensure that we can provide asthma care to people throughout the community. We also focus on excellence in asthma care, through correct diagnosis, treatment and medication, as well as education to ensure that health and quality of life are the best they can be.
The following tips to ensure you are receiving excellent asthma care are from our Clinical Advisors, A/Prof John Blakey, respiratory specialist and Brooke Kyle, Clinical Nurse Consultant from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the Institute for Respiratory Health.
- Studies show most people with asthma in Australia have frequent symptoms and accept this as normal. Everyone should be aiming for excellent control, which is achievable for most people. Better day to day control means your lungs are more likely to cope when exposed to potential triggers like colder air, pollens, a respiratory virus or other infection.
- If you use your reliever more than twice per week, or you ever wake at night because of your chest, your control could be better.
- If you have more than one course of steroid tablets (prednisolone) in a year, you probably need a specialist asthma review.
Get the most from your inhalers
- Make sure you are taking a preventer inhaler. Drugs like salbutamol (Ventolin) don’t reduce your risk of becoming unwell and shouldn’t be used as someone’s only asthma therapy.
- Ensure you are using your preventer as prescribed. You won’t get the full benefit otherwise.
- If you get side effects from your inhaler, or it is difficult to use regularly, or you struggle to afford it, please talk to your GP or Asthma WA about an alternative.
- Check your medications are in date.
- Check your devices such as your spacer to make sure they are clean and working properly. If you aren’t sure, speak to your doctor, pharmacist or the team at Asthma WA.
- Get your device technique checked by Asthma WA’s Respiratory Health Team. Even if you have done this in the past, it’s common to pick up some bad habits and a small adjustment can make an enormous difference to how effective your medication is.
Think of other common risk factors
- There’s never a bad time to stop smoking. The risk of serious asthma attacks or infections such as ‘flu or COVID in smokers might be the additional motivation you need.
- Don’t smoke cannabis or vape, either. Both of these are harmful to the lungs.
- Being overweight is a serious risk factor for asthma attacks. Even a small amount of weight loss is helpful if your BMI is high.
- Make sure your hayfever-type symptoms are well treated: viruses and bacteria almost always infect the nose before the chest, and having hayfever makes it easier for them, which can trigger an asthma flare-up.
GET HELP IF THINGS AREN’T GOING WELL
- There are several highly effective newer medicines that can be accessed via specialist clinics. If you are taking your preventer regularly and still having asthma attacks, these may be suitable for you.
- Many people with asthma actually have another issue driving their symptoms. A comprehensive team-based approach can detect and treat these other conditions.
- Check you have enough medication to last you a month, especially if you have a trip planned. Also check you have a prescription on hand so you can refill your medication when the time comes.
- Make sure your Asthma Action Plan is up to date so you know what to do if you become unwell. If it has been longer than a year or your symptoms or medications have changed, your Action Plan needs to be updated.
- Winter will be here soon. Be mindful of additional colds and viruses, and book in to get your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations when they are due. You may also consider getting up to date with pneumonia and pertussis vaccines.
- Consider enrolling in a research trial (link to your page with the list of trials on it) that investigates how useful promising new treatments and devices are in the real world.
- If you haven’t had your COVID-19 booster and are eligible to have it, please do so urgently. Almost all serious COVID-19 infections occur in people that have not been vaccinated. If you have concerns talk to your GP and they can refer you to a specialist if needed.
- Follow the latest public health advice around mask-wearing and distancing: set a good example to others.
- Be patient and adaptable: everyone is working out how their services and businesses can run in these new circumstances.
- Get comfortable with a facemask when you cannot isolate or if you are feeling unwell. If you are feeling breathless or having flare-ups while wearing a mask, this indicates your asthma/COPD is not well controlled. If wearing a mask makes you anxious try breathing techniques such as those at Breathing Freely.
“The value of respiratory education and support cannot be underestimated, and we are lucky to have Asthma WA as experienced providers of respiratory services in our community.
If you have any concerns or questions about your asthma you can speak to a member of their Respiratory Health Team by calling (08) 9289 3600. It is also important to check in regularly with your health care provider or respiratory specialist.”
Dr John Blakey