More than 2.7 million Australians – that’s one in nine of us – are living with asthma.
It is a serious disease that, without effective treatment, can be deadly. In fact, in 2017 there were 441 deaths from asthma in Australia.
The bad news is that the number of sufferers is growing and the exact reasons why some people develop asthma and some don’t are still not fully understood.
But the good news is that for most sufferers, having an adequate Asthma Action Plan (AAP) allows them to live normal lives. Unfortunately, recent estimates indicate that nearly half of sufferers do not have an adequate AAP.
Asthma occurs when the airways become inflamed and narrowed due to a trigger. This causes symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulties inhaling and exhaling.
According to the National Asthma Council, asthma triggers can be due to allergic or non-allergic causes.
Allergic asthma is triggered by reactions to allergens such as dust, pollen, animal dander, or certain types of food or food additives. It is more likely to affect people who have a family history of asthma and allergies.
Non-allergic asthma can be induced by physical exertion, exposure to cold air, inhalation of smoke and other pollutants, or when people are suffering from ailments such as cold, flu or other respiratory infections.
For most people, asthma is controlled with reliever and preventative medications.
Regardless of whether asthma is allergic or non-allergic, sufferers should have a reliever medicine which is typically in the form of an inhaler of puffer. This helps to reduce inflammation of the airways.
If using inhalers, a spacer is recommended to help administer the correct dose. This is particularly important for children and your pharmacist can help to select an appropriate spacer and provide advice on how to use it effectively.
Humidifiers and vaporisers, while offering no direct preventative benefit, can be beneficial in relieving some of the symptoms of asthma and contributing to overall respiratory health. As an example, increased humidity can help break down mucus, and alleviate dryness of the mouth, nose and throat.
If you or a family member suffer from asthma and you are not sure about how effectively you are keeping it under control, a visit to your GP is highly recommended to ensure your APP is up to date. Head in-store to your local Blooms The Chemist to talk to your Pharmacist for more information.