Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes breathing difficulty. In New Zealand, one in seven children between 2-14 years old and one in eight adults take medication for asthma. Without proper management, the disease can be serious and life-threatening.
Common allergens like pollens and dust
Strong scents and chemicals
Extreme heat or extreme cold
Can be hereditary
An asthmatic person has an inflamed airway. Exposure to irritants or triggers mentioned above may cause the airway muscles to tighten. As a result, the passageway becomes narrow and the person experiences shortness of breath.
In addition, excess mucus production is highly possible. Other asthma attack symptoms include frequent coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the chest. It is also common for an asthmatic patient to experience fatigue or exhaustion throughout the day.
Nighttime or nocturnal asthma happens when the same symptoms occur during the night, which interrupts sleep.
The disease has four classifications or severities. It is important to identify the severity of your condition because each requires a different treatment and medication.
Mild intermittent. Regular symptoms show up to twice a week while nighttime symptoms up to twice a month.
Mild persistent. Regular symptoms show up more than twice a week but not on a daily basis. The nighttime symptoms also show up more than twice a month.
Moderate persistent. Regular symptoms occur daily with flare-ups that can last several days. Nighttime symptoms also occur more than once a week.
Severe persistent. Regular symptoms that occur every day that are so severe, it affects a person's daily physical activities. Nighttime symptoms also occur every night.
With proper treatment, long-term control of the condition is possible with symptoms barely showing at all. Your doctor may prescribe drugs like corticosteroids and leukotriene modifiers to help manage the disease. These can be taken with the help of asthma inhalers.
Treatment may also include the use of bronchodilators. These are long term beta-agonists and are used to relax the airway muscles, thereby preventing contraction
In case there is an attack, short-term medications are available to provide fast relief from symptoms. You may purchase prescription medicines from the Takapuna Pharmacy in Auckland.
If you are an asthmatic, ask your doctor to develop an asthma action plan.
The plan lists down what specific medicines to take as well as the schedule, dose, and frequency of intake. It helps you recognize when the symptoms are getting worse and how to manage them. It also gives instructions about what to do in case an attack suddenly becomes an emergency.
An asthma action plan is usually colour-coded for easier understanding. It can be classified into three zones, as shown below.
Green zone. It indicates that the condition of the patient is safe and manageable. Regular symptoms do not show up.
Yellow zone. It serves as a warning as symptoms begin showing up. It reminds patients to take medications.
Red zone. It indicates that the condition is already dangerous as the patient suffers from severe symptoms. This is when you need to go to the hospital immediately.