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Asthma

 

Asthma is a common condition in Australia that affects the airways causing breathing difficulties. It is often associated with other allergic reactions such as hayfever and eczema and can affect anyone of any age, but is most commonly seen in children. Most people with asthma are generally symptom free until they come into contact with an ‘allergen’ or ‘trigger’ such as pollen, cigarette smoke, acute exercise or illness.

 

 

The main factors that lead an asthma attack are:

  • the inside lining of the airways becomes red and swollen due to inflammation,
  • extra mucus (sticky fluid) being produced, which can block up airways, and
  • muscles around the airways squeeze tight (bronchoconstriction).

 


Symptoms
Similar to individuals having different triggers for an asthma attack, the symptoms can be different in different people; even in the same family. Symptoms are caused by narrowing of the airways and typically include:

  • dry, irritating coughing bursts,
  • tightness in the chest,
  • wheezing,
  • shortness of breath, and
  • difficulty breathing.

 

Consequences of an asthma attack depend on the severity and duration. Chronic asthma sufferers are more likely to endure more side effects such as fatigue, lethargy, poor appetite and poor physical fitness.

 

 

Treatment options
Currently there is no cure for asthma. If you suspect that you, or someone you know may have asthma it is important to have the condition diagnosed by a health professional.

 

The following may impact your asthma:

  • Stress – whether it’s depression or excitement, emotion can impact your asthma, so try to stay cool, calm and collected.
  • Exercise – exercise can help control your asthma so regular physical activity is important. If you find that exercise exacerbates your asthma, ensure that you warm up before starting exercise, slowly build up your tolerance to exercise, learn to breathe properly during exercise and cool down properly after exercising. Learn to know the difference between exercise-induced asthma and shortness of breath caused by poor fitness. Swimming is particularly beneficial for asthma as it helps to increase the volume of the lungs.
  • Diet – although there are many theories that suggest food is caused by particular foods, research has found this not to be the case. Allergies and food intolerances can cause an immune response, exacerbating asthma, but these are unique to each individual. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish are particularly beneficial for asthma as they help to minimise inflammation.
  • Environmental triggers – environmental triggers can cause your airways to narrow resulting in an exacerbation of your asthma symptoms. Triggers are different for different people but may include things such as mould, pollen and dustmites.

 

 

Disclaimer
The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.

 


Sources

Better Health Channel

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma?open

 

Asthma Australia

http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/About_Asthma.aspx