Puff Bunny (Asthma)

Having asthma shouldn’t mean that you can’t reach your goals. Just ask Joe.

Joe Williams is 23 years old, a father of two and one of the NRL’s rising stars. He also has asthma. But Joe hasn’t let asthma stand in the way of his success with the South Sydney Rabbitohs ” he’s learned how to control his asthma, so it doesn’t control him.

“I’ve had asthma for as long as I can remember,” the talented young half back says. “I’ve never had it really severely, but my sister did when we were young. I can remember, as a kid, being really frightened when she had an asthma attack and we had to call the ambulance.”

Everyone’s asthma is different, and everyone who has asthma needs different methods of treatment and management. Many people who have asthma as a child will grow out of the condition, which is what Joe thought had happened to him.

“I just assumed I’d grown out of it,” Joe says, “so I stopped paying as much attention to it as I probably should have, and I stopped using my puffer.”

“But at the beginning of this season, I started having symptoms again. I started experiencing tightness in the chest, and sometimes felt like I couldn’t breathe. I started wheezing and coughing at night again as well.”

Rather than ignoring his symptoms and hoping that they’d go away, Joe did the right thing and saw his doctor.

“My doctor helped me write an asthma action plan,” Joe says. “It helps me to monitor my symptoms and tells me when I should be using my medication. Now I make sure that I always use my puffer before a game, and I always carry it with me.”

“I also make sure that I avoid smoky areas, and I look after my health. It’s made all the difference.”

Asthma can sometimes run in families. Both Joe and his partner have asthma in their families, and recently their son Brodi started showing symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing at night.

“We took him to the doctor straight away,” Joe says. “Now we make sure that we keep an eye out for any symptoms, and give him his medication on a regular basis.

“You can never be too careful with asthma. You need to stay aware and see your doctor regularly. I don’t want my son being held back by his asthma, and because we learned how to manage it, he doesn’t have to be.”

HEAD: Action Stations

INTRO: Take control of your asthma ” get a written asthma action plan.

STORY: The more you know about your asthma, the better you can manage it. Whether you’ve had asthma all your life, or you’ve been newly diagnosed, by working together with your doctor and developing your own asthma action plan, you can reduce the severity of your symptoms, or even stop having symptoms altogether.

What is a written asthma action plan?
A written asthma action plan is a special plan that you develop with your doctor. This plan will help you to recognise if your asthma is getting worse and will also help you to monitor your medication.

An asthma action plan can also help you to recognise if a bad attack is coming on and lets you know what you should do about it ” whether you need to change the amount of medication you take, see your doctor or get emergency medical treatment.

Why should I have a written asthma action plan?
A written asthma action plan can help you to stay healthy and reduce your asthma symptoms. You should have your action plan reviewed by your doctor regularly, even if you’re feeling well.

When you ask your doctor to help you write an asthma action plan, your doctor will take in account how severe your asthma is and what medications you are currently taking.

Your written asthma action plan should be kept somewhere in your home where you can refer to it easily if you notice any change in your asthma symptoms. You should also give a copy of your asthma action plan to people who might need it ” whether it’s your partner, a friend, your parents, teacher or a workmate.

How do I get a written asthma action plan?
To get a written asthma action plan ask your doctor about the Asthma Cycle of Care.

What is the Asthma Cycle of Care?
The Asthma Cycle of Care has been developed by specialist lung doctors and GPs and is based on the latest knowledge about how to treat asthma most effectively.

The Asthma Cycle of Care involves at least two visits to a GP over a period of up to 12 months. During these visits your doctor will:

  • Fully assess your level of asthma;
  • Develop a written asthma action plan for you to follow;
  • Provide you with information and education on managing your asthma; and
  • Review how well your medications are working.

For more information about asthma, head to www.australia.gov.au/asthma, or call 1800 020 613.

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