What is asthma?
Asthma is an allergic condition often inherited from our parents. With this condition our bodies see certain environmental triggers as a threat and therefore overeacts in trying to get rid of it. The chest tightens, may even close completely and it also produces more mucous (phlegm). When this happens one is said to have an asthma attack. Triggers can include dust, mold, droppings, cold air, or chemicals among others.
There is no specific test to see whether you have asthma or not, but diagnosis is normally done by excluding other conditions and by taking note of medical history i.e. does asthma run in your family? Have you suffered passed chest problems and the extent of it?
I have been diagnosed, where to now?
It is firstly important to understand what triggers your asthma attack and try to avoid it. Secondly find a way of keeping track of when you suffer your attacks. This becomes a very handy tool in managing your medication and treatment. If you miss a dose of medication or if you are using any other occasional medication for maybe a sore throat or sprained leg, also include this on your asthma calendar. This is because some medication like anti-inflammatories and blood pressure medication can affect asthma control. You should speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the medication that affects it.
How do I take my medication?
The goal of treatment is to eventually be symptom free. But before we get to that let’s explain the types of medication. Firstly you get two types of pumps, relievers and preventers. Relievers are used to get over an asthma attack if it happens, while preventers (like the name suggests) prevents asthma attack from occurring. Tablets or syrups are the same, some prevent and others provide relief. It is important to understand which is which. Ideally you need as little as possible relievers. If you are using a lot of these your asthma is not under control. On the other hand you need to use your preventers daily as prescribed, religiously to keep it under control. Ask your pharmacist to explain to you in detail how to use your medication. If you are not using it correctly it won’t work like you want it to.
I haven’t had an asthma attack in months surely I can stop this medication?
This is untrue the point of treatment is that you do not have an attack, asthma is a chronic condition. The fact that you are not having an attack means that your medication is working.
Asthma pumps weakens my lungs?
Asthma is not a lung weakness and treating it does not make you lungs lazy. It is a medical ailment and has to be treated as such, besides there has been no evidence that medication leads to “weaker lungs”. Keep using your medication as prescribed
I suffer an asthma attack occasionally, I only have to take my medication as required?
The key here is to prevent an asthma attack from occurring, this can only be maintained by using you medication everyday as prescribed. If you are using a reliever eg: Asthavent® (either pump or medication) regularly yourasthma is not under control.
I have asthma therefore I can’t exercise
Asthma often worsens with excessive exercise, therefore it is suggested to do shorter aerobic exercises. A 30min walk with 5min warm up three times a week is often well tolerated.