Breathe Easy (Asthma)

Don’t let asthma take the wind out of your sails.

More than 2.2 million Australians suffer from asthma. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs. When they’re exposed to certain things, or “triggers”, their airways become narrower, which makes it harder for them to breathe.

What causes asthma?
The cause of asthma is not fully known but people who have asthma often have a family history of asthma, eczema (itchy, sensitive skin) or hayfever (an allergic reaction that makes the nose irritated and runny). Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and children who are exposed to cigarette smoke are more at risk of developing asthma.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of asthma include:
A dry, irritating, persistent cough, particularly at night, in the early morning, or during with exercise;
A tight feeling in the chest;
Shortness of breath; and

What triggers asthma?
There are many different things that can trigger an asthma attack, as every person’s asthma is different. Triggers include:

A cold or the flu;
Exposure to cigarette smoke;
Exercise or physical activity;
Inhaling allergens ” pollens, moulds, animal dander and dust mites;
Exposure to dust, air pollution, wood smoke or smoke from a bush fire;
Changes in temperature or weather;
Certain medications, such as aspirin;
Chemicals or strong smells, such as perfume or household cleaners;
Emotional factors, such as laughter or stress; and
Some foods and food preservatives, flavourings and colourings, although this is rare.

It helps if you can identify what triggers your asthma attacks, as this can help you to manage it better.

Can it be cured?
Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be controlled so that it doesn’t interfere with your life. Things you can do to control your asthma include:

Taking medications as directed;
Monitoring your asthma;
Staying active, fit and healthy;
Avoiding triggers whenever you can; and
Seeing your doctor regularly.

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