Do you have Asthma?

an image of a lung

How to recognise asthma

Asthma is a condition of the airways.People with asthma have sensitive airways which react to triggers that set off their asthma. Their airways swell and get thick with mucus and the muscles around the airway squeeze tight. This makes it hard to breathe.

People with asthma can have a range of symptoms:

Breathlesssness icon
Wheezing icon
tightness of chest icon
persistent cough icon
an image of a nurse holding an inhaler

Who gets asthma and why?

Asthma affects people of all ages. Some people get asthma when they are young; others when they are older. The causes are not fully understood, although people with asthma often have a family history of asthma, eczema and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). There is some evidence that exposure to environmental factors such as workplace chemicals or tobacco smoke can lead to asthma. Researchers continue to try to find out more about what causes asthma and how we might prevent it.

Asthma Resources

Asthma: 10 things to ask your doctor

How can I tell if my asthma is well managed – and if it’s not?

Can I identify the triggers that make my asthma worse?
Can I do anything about them?
If exercise sets off my asthma, how can I still keep active?

What medication do I need to take – and why?
How do I take it?
When do I take it – every day/some days?
Do I need it when I am well?

Asthma plan
Can I have a written asthma action plan?
When should I see you again?

How do people with asthma keep safe and well?

While we still need to find out more about what causes asthma, we do know a lot about how to live well with asthma. Most people can carry out their lives normally, by following simple asthma treatments.

You can:
— Learn about asthma and asthma first aid

— Learn about your asthma symptoms, triggers and medication.

How do your symptoms help you understand your asthma?

Everyone’s asthma is different and can change over time: that’s why it’s important for people with asthma to see their doctor at least twice a year for an asthma checkup and more frequently if they have concerns.

If you have asthma, see your doctor if you:

— Wake up coughing, wheezing or breathless

— Struggle to keep up with normal activity

— Use your reliever more than three times a week

— Are unsure about the way your medications can work best for you.


Do you know your triggers?

Not every person has the same triggers. Common asthma triggers include:

— Colds and flu

— Inhaled allergens, for example pollens, moulds, animal dander, dust mite

— Smoke for example from cigarettes or fire

— Activity and exercise

— Work place chemicals

— Dust and pollution

— Changes in temperature and weather

— Emotions, for example laughter or stress

— Work place environment.

Get an asthma action plan from your doctor

How can asthma plan can help you

— Respond to your asthma symptoms

— Educate family in how to deal with your asthma

— Use your medication

— Know when to seek medical help.

Know how your medications work for you
There is a wide range of asthma medications.

How can you help someone with asthma?

Even when people look after their asthma well every day, an asthma attack can happen. Signs of an asthma attack can include:

— Cough

— Minor difficulty breathing

— No difficulty speaking in sentences

— Persistent cough

— Obvious difficulty breathing

— Able to speak in short sentences only

Severe & life threatening
— Gasping for breath

— Pale and sweaty

— May have blue lips

— Speaks only a few words in one breath

Asthma can get worse quickly – or slowly over a longer period of time – even a few days. Asthma first aid can be provided as soon as you notice asthma worsening.
Do not wait until asthma is severe to start asthma first aid.

Everyone can learn asthma first aid.

Helpful information for Asthma First Aid
If a person’s asthma suddenly gets worse:
If a person’s asthma suddenly gets worse or you are concerned, call for emergency assistance (Dial 999) immediately. Tell the operator a person is having an asthma attack.

If you are in a remote area:
In remote areas, after dialling for emergency assistance, seek medical advice as available, for example, a local community nurse or health clinic.

If you don’t know the person has asthma:
If a person is finding it hard to breathe and you do not know if they have asthma or not, call emergency assistance (Dial 999) immediately and then follow the Asthma First Aid Plan.
Giving blue reliever medication to someone who does not have asthma is unlikely to harm them.