“Most asthmatics know the difference between what’s normal for them and what isn’t,” says respiratory physician Dr Jonathan Burdon. “It’s crucial to be able to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and take appropriate precautions or strategies to reverse the process.”
The aim of asthma care is to control your symptoms as much as possible. “While annual GP visits really are essential, you can only get a prescription with five repeats, so it’s worthwhile having a check-up every six months, when you’ll need more scripts,” he says.
A written asthma action plan should be reviewed regularly to ensure you can recognise worsening asthma symptoms and give clear instructions on what to do in response. “Your
GP or asthma specialist will be able to tailor a plan to your individual needs,” Dr Burdon says.
Using your inhaler correctly can help you manage your symptoms more effectively. Ask your GP, asthma nurse or pharmacist to show you the right way to use it. “People not taking their medications as prescribed is a common problem, and that’s when they can get into strife,” he says.
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can trigger asthma or make it worse. “Always tell your doctor and pharmacist that you have asthma, and check with them before changing or stopping any medication,” Dr Burdon says.
Influenza and pneumonia are serious conditions that can trigger asthma. “If you get sick, it’s highly likely that your asthma will flare up at the same time, so it’s worth having the annual flu vaccine, which is free for people over the age of 65,” he explains.
Being a smoker makes asthma symptoms worse, and it can reduce the effectiveness of asthma medications. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice on quitting. Phone 137 848 or visit [Quit Now] (www.quitnow.gov.au)
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