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Asthma : symptoms, trigger factors & management

Charisse Gray

Asthma is a common airways disease affecting 30% of all Australians - one third are adults and two thirds are children.

What is an asthma attack?
An asthma attack happens when the airways (bronchial tubes) in the lungs narrow. In asthma the airways are more sensitive than normal and when exposed to a "trigger" they overreact and become inflamed and narrow due to:

  • Swelling of the airway lining
  • Squeezing or spasm of the airway's muscle walls
  • Increased mucus

Symptoms
Asthma may be indicated by one or more of the following:
  • cough -especially at night
  • wheezing
  • tightness in the chest
  • shortness of breath

Trigger factors
Certain triggers bring on asthma attacks in some people:
  • allergy to house dust mite, pollens, moulds and pets
  • irritants like cigarette smoke, dust or chemical fumes
  • viral infections such as colds or flu
  • vigorous exercise (medication may be needed before exercising)
  • certain medicines such as aspirin and NSAIDS
  • emotional stress or excitement
  • cold air or a sudden temperature change
  • some food additives

Medications
Preventers treat airway inflammation. They are the first-line defence and need to be taken every day to prevent attacks. Typical preventers are Becotide, Pulmicort, Intal, Intal Forte, Becloforte, Aldecin, Tilade and Flixotide.Relievers treat airway narrowing. They are rescue medications usually given by inhaler when symptoms occur. These typically include Ventolin, Bricanyl, Berotec, Aldecin, Respolin, Atrovent, Asmol, Respax and Serevent.

Managing asthma
Any asthmatic condition should be referred to your doctor for advice.Your doctor or pharmacist will assist you with a six-step management plan which is aimed at abolishing symptoms, maximising lung function and achieving the best quality of life. The plan will:1. Assess the severity of the asthma2. Achieve the best lung function - ensuring that medications and devices are being used correctly and effectively3. Maintain the best lung function by avoiding trigger factors4. Maintain the best lung function with optimal medication5. Assist with developing a written action plan for management, and handling acute attacks and deterioration.6. Educate and review condition regularly via checkups


Charisse Gray
Charisse Gray is an experienced and respected health writer of more than eighteen years standing who has been published extensively on health and lifestyle issues

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© Charisse Gray

NO MEDICAL ADVICE: The content and any associated services available through selfhealth are not intended in any way to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.



 
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Asthma : symptoms, trigger factors & management

What is an asthma attack?
Symptoms
Trigger factors
Medications
Managing asthma

Other articles

Links

Related topics


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