World Asthma Day 2021 – Wheeze or not?
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects 2.7 million Australians. That’s 1 in 9 of us!
Asthma is a long-term condition of the airways (the tubes going down into the lungs). Inflammation, contraction of muscles and increased mucous production in the airways can all contribute to narrowing of these breathing tubes, which results in symptoms of asthma.
Air trying to pass through narrow airways can cause a whistle sound. This is what we know as wheeze and it is one of the most common symptoms of asthma. But, not all people with asthma experience the exact same symptoms.
Myth – You need to have a wheeze for it to be Asthma.
Truth – Many people don’t experience wheeze as a symptom, but still have Asthma.
Apart from wheeze, other symptoms of asthma include a persistent cough which may be worse at night or when it is cold, breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, and tightening across the chest/chest-pain.
Also, just because someone has a wheeze, doesn’t necessarily mean they have asthma. Wheeze can be common in children with respiratory illnesses or in people with other chronic respiratory or lung illnesses.
As one patients’ asthma symptoms and triggers can be very different from someone else’s, it is very important for people to know their own asthma. Keeping a Symptom Diary where you jot down what symptoms you’ve experienced and what you’ve been doing when they occur can help you to figure out your asthma triggers and how to avoid them wherever possible.
Having a written Asthma Action Plan is also essential for any patient with asthma. This plan will document clear information and instructions about how to manage your asthma, both when well and when experiencing an asthma flare or attack. This plan can be used at home, be given to other care-givers and school/work-places and should be reviewed every 12 months to make sure it’s up-to-date. Any GP can work with you to create your own individual Asthma Action Plan.
How can National Pharmacies assist in asthma management?
- Free inhaler technique consults, ensuring you are using your device correctly.
- Recommending devices such as spacers that can enhance the effectiveness of asthma medications.
- Monitoring dispensing of preventer medications to encourage use as prescribed and intended.
- Checking your reliever medications are in date and not expired.
- Administering flu shots (as influenza is a common cause of asthma flare-ups). Book your flu shot here
So wheeze or not, your friendly pharmacist at your local National Pharmacies store will be happy and able to help with all of your asthma needs.
For further information, visit the Asthma Australia website at https://asthma.org.au/
Author – Bec Rogers (Professional Services Pharmacist)