What is asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the small airways in the lungs that carry air in and out of the body. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs. The airways may tighten, partially close up, swell inside, and make more mucus when faced with certain triggers. This makes it hard to breathe in, and even harder to breathe out.
A person with sensitive airways may be irritated by a trigger in the environment (such as pollen), by an illness, or by an emotion (such as anxiety). Some of the asthma triggers like pollen and pet fur, contain allergens. Allergens are tiny substances that are usually harmless, but they can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
The triggers make the airways tighten and become swollen inside and they also produce more mucus. All these factors make it difficult to move air through the airway.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
Asthma has four main symptoms:
- a tight feeling in the chest
- wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
These signs may vary from person to person. Sometimes they happen quite suddenly and sometimes they may occur over a longer period of time.
What happens in an asthma attack?
In an asthma attack, symptoms of coughing, breathlessness, wheezing or tightness in the chest get worse, so the person finds it difficult to breathe. Some people say it feels like they have something heavy on their chest or that their chest feels tight. It can be so hard to breathe it becomes painful and for some, can be quite scary.
Currently there is no cure for asthma, however there are lots of things you can do to manage it better so that it doesn't impact on your life too much. The first step is to learn as much as you can about the condition and the steps you can put in place to control it.
It is also important to have a self-management plan so you understand how to recognise when your asthma is getting worse and what to do. If you do not have an asthma self-management plan talk to your doctor about getting one or contact us at CanBreathe for more information.
How good is your asthma control?
Having asthma does not mean you should experience symptoms every day and/or stop you from doing the things you enjoy. If you do, then your asthma may not be well controlled. Take the asthma control test to find out.
If your asthma is not under good control contact your doctor or Practice Nurse to discuss or arrange a review of your asthma or contact us at CanBreathe for some free education.
How we can help you
Understanding your asthma and triggers can help manage the condition and allow you to have a full and active life. CanBreathe have Respiratory Nurse Educators who provide free individual consultations and education to help you understand more about your, or your child’s, asthma and what you can do to manage it. Appointments can be at our clinic or in your home. Call us now to arrange an appointment.
There are many options available that can help. Let our nurses show you how.
Consultation Services provided free to you
- Individual consultations to improve the management of your, or your child's, asthma (at our place or yours)
- Education about medications, inhalers and spacers
- Advice on equipment best suited to your individual needs
- Telephone advice
- Resources for people and those supporting others with asthma