‘Tis the season to be wheezy: know your triggers, update your asthma plan

Medical student Dominic Sellers with a spacer and an inhaler, common instruments which help relieve asthma symptons.
Medical student Dominic Sellers with a spacer and an inhaler, common instruments which help relieve asthma symptons.

With the arrival of Spring comes a timely reminder for people with asthma to get prepared for the season ahead, as more temperate weather increases the trigger for an attack.

September 1 was the start of National Asthma week, which aims to promote awareness of asthma to the general population and highlight ways to help people manage asthma.

Approximately 2.5 million Australians have been diagnosed with asthma.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs where airways become so obstructed that it affects breathing. It’s responsible for over 400 deaths and 39,500 hospitalisations per year. The condition has been highlighted recently by a series of severe weather conditions including South Australia’s dust storm and Victoria’s thunderstorm which led to a sudden increase in asthma related outbreaks.

Dr Neale Somes from Forbes Medical Centre said the risks of having an attack depended on an individual’s triggers.

With the current dry weather and drought conditions, Dr Somes predicts that individuals who are sensitive to dry or dusty conditions may see an increase in asthma triggers.

“If your airways are sensitive to dry and dusty conditions, make sure you have your asthma management plan in place,” he said.

Dr Somes expects those who are pollen sensitive or suffer hay fever will suffer less attacks from environmental causes in the Spring season.

Most people know of someone affected by asthma, it’s important that not only asthmatics, but their friends, family and work colleagues, learn the steps of asthma first aid. These are:

Sit the person comfortably upright, give them four puffs of a blue/grey reliever. Then, wait four minutes.

If the person still cannot breathe normally, call an ambulance immediately and keep giving them the reliever every four minutes.