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Asthma Management

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition of the airways. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs which react to triggers that set off their asthma. This makes it harder for them to breathe.


Three main factors cause the airways to narrow:

  • The inside lining of the airways becomes red and swollen (inflammation)

  • Extra mucus (sticky fluid) may be produced, which can block up airways

  • Muscles around the airways squeeze tight. This is called ‘bronchoconstriction’


When airways become inflamed, it is also referred to as a fare-up, and these flare-ups can come on slowly over hours, days or week, or quickly over minutes.

Types of Asthma
What is Asthma

The types of asthma are related to the triggers that cause you to have asthma symptoms. Asthma triggers can come from your environment, lifestyle or the quality of the air you breathe. Cold and flu viruses, smoke, exercise or allergies to pollen or dust mites are all types of triggers. 


Allergic asthma – caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, food items, and mould

Non-allergic asthma – caused by irritants such as viruses, air particles from smoke, cleaning products, perfumes, and aerosol products

Occupational asthma – caused by workplace triggers such as chemicals, animal proteins, fumes, etc.

Exercise-induced asthma – usually caused by physical activities

Nocturnal asthma – symptoms that worsen at night, possible cause includes dust mites, heartburn or sleep cycle

Types of Asthma

Types of Asthma



Symptoms differ from person to person, but most commonly symptoms will include:

  • Persistent cough

  • Wheezing – high pitch whistling sound due to the narrowing of airways

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Tightening of the chest or chest pain

How do we diagnose Asthma?

How do we diagnose Asthma?

If you suspect you might have asthma, you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis. The good news is that most people can control their asthma with medications and lead a normal life. Once your asthma is well controlled you should experience only occasional symptoms, and asthma attacks (or flare-ups) should be rare.


Diagnosis usually involves providing your medical history and undertaking a lung function test.


At your appointment your doctor will ask you questions about your and your family’s medical history. They may also ask for details about your symptoms such as: 

  • when, where, and what makes your symptoms worse

  • how often and how serious your symptoms have been. 


If you have eczema or hay fever, or have close relatives with allergies or asthma, a diagnosis is more likely. Asthma is also more likely to be diagnosed if your symptoms:

  • keep coming back, or happen at the same time each year

  • are worse at night or in the early morning

  • are clearly triggered by exercise, allergies or infections, or have a seasonal pattern

  • improve quickly with reliever medication.


There is no single test for asthma. Your doctor will use the information about your symptoms and health to work out whether you need to have: 

  • spirometry (breathing or lung function) test –this is suitable for most adults and kids aged six and older 

  • allergy testing

  • treatment trial (this means starting asthma treatment and seeing if it’s effective).

Managing Asthma

Managing Asthma

Most people with asthma can manage and control their lives so they are unaffected by symptoms.

Asthma triggers are different for different people. Each person (both adults and kids) can have different reactions to different triggers. Some triggers are avoidable (like cigarette smoke or perfumes), while others are more difficult to avoid (such as weather changes and pollen).

Knowing your asthma triggers and understanding how to avoid them can help lower your chance of having asthma symptoms.

The best way to do this is by avoiding exposure to known triggers.

It is also important to have an Asthma Action Plan which will provide you with a personalised guide to manage your asthma ad what to do if you have a flare up or asthma attack.

Understanding your medications and using them as prescribed is also very important.

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