This month is Asthma Awareness and we most likely all know someone who has asthma. There are approximately 380,000 people in Ireland who have asthma that is 1 in 13 people and 1 in 10 children. For these people Asthma can result in an average of 7 days missed every year from work and 5 days missed from school due to asthma.
So, what exactly is asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways- the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. In asthma, the airways become over-sensitive; meaning that they react to things that wouldn’t usually cause a problem, such as cold air or dust. This reaction causes the muscles of the tube walls tighten up, making them narrow and leaving little room for air to flow in and out.
With so little space in the airways, it becomes difficult for air to move in and out and the chest has to work much harder to breathe. Tightening of the muscles around the airways can happen quickly; this is the most common cause of mild asthma symptoms. Thankfully, this tightness can be relieved quickly with an inhaler (usually blue).
Asthma cannot be cured, but with proper treatment it can be well-managed. There is no reason why everyone with asthma cannot live a full and active life, symptom free. To help with this the Asthma Society of Ireland has a website full of information and helpful tips. One such resource is the Pollen Tracker which allows people to monitor the pollen count in the air and to minimise the chances of a hayfever flare-up or an asthma attack.
Another really great resource is the Asthma Action Plan which is a personalised guide to manage your asthma when it gets out of control. This can be completed with your G.P. or a specialist asthma nurse. To organise an appointment for an action plan, ring the asthma adviceline on 1800 44 54 64.
Tips on how to manage your asthma during the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Continue to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. Use a spacer when using your inhaler and proper inhaler technique
- Download an Asthma Action Plan and fill it in with your GP or a respiratory nurse over the phone
- Know your triggers and avoid them where possible
- Consider going smoke-free for your health and do not smoke in the home
- Continue to eat well and get a good night’s sleep
- Use relaxation techniques and mindfulness to help ease any anxiety
- Exercise where possible. Always have your reliever (blue) inhaler with you when exercising
- Use relaxation techniques and mindfulness to help ease any anxiety at this time
Check out the Irish Asthma Society Website on www.asthma.ie for lots more resources and information.