Asthma is a long-term health condition which affects the airways in the lungs. Patients with asthma have sensitive airways that narrow in response to a trigger. This can happen at anytime. When a patient with asthma is having an asthma flare-up, the muscles around the airways squeeze tight, the airways swell and more mucus is produced. This makes it hard to breathe. A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is often called an asthma attack.

Signs and Symptoms Common signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • wheeze
  • cough

Good Asthma Control:

  • require their blue/grey reliever medication no more than 2 days per week
  • are able to keep up with normal activities (including physical activity)
  • are free of daytime symptoms
  • are free of symptoms during the night and upon waking in the morning.

Poor Asthma Control may:

  • use their blue/grey reliever medication more than 2 days per week
  • have difficulty keeping up with normal activities (including avoiding physical activity)
  • experience daytime symptoms
  • be easily fatigued and lack concentration
  • experience symptoms during the night and/or upon wakening in the morning
  • have a higher risk of a severe asthma attack.

Trigger is the word used to describe something that may cause an asthma flare-up, or make existing asthma symptoms worse. There are a number of triggers for asthma, and these can vary and change for each person with asthma. Asthma symptoms may develop from exposure to one trigger or from a number of triggers simultaneously.

The most common triggers for asthma are:

  • exercise
  • colds/flu.

Other triggers include:

  • weather changes
  • moulds and pollens
  • dust and dust mites
  • smoke
  • animals
  • chemicals
  • deodorants and perfumes
  • foods and additives

Maintaining good asthma control, by following an Asthma Plan (e.g. Asthma Action Plan), is the most effective way to prevent triggers from worsening asthma. When asthma is well controlled, triggers are less likely to cause an asthma flare-up. Avoiding or reducing exposure to asthma triggers is one strategy to minimise the risk of making asthma worse, however this is not always possible or practical.

An Asthma Action Plan is a written set of individualised instructions, completed, signed and dated by a medical practitioner that outlines management of a persons asthma when well controlled and during a flare-up.

If you have asthma please book an appointment with our nurse for an Asthma Action Plan and Spirometry.