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Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airways of the lung. This disease commonly begins at childhood although it can affect people at any age. People that are affected by asthma experience recurrent and flare-ups where the airways are narrowing and inflamed. Symptoms during a flare-up include wheezing, breathlessness, coughing and chest tightness.    

What causes Asthma?

The cause of asthma is not well understood although it The actual cause and pathology behind asthma is not well-understood although it is thought to be triggers by inflammation, airway narrowing and mucous secretions. It is believed that flare ups are triggered by a stimuli or allergen. For example; pet hair, pollen, chemicals and dust. Medication such as a ‘puffer’ can be used to reduced effects of a flare up.

How do I know if I have asthma?

From the information above, when experiencing an asthma attack the most common symptoms are wheezing, breathlessness, coughing and chest tightness. Your GP will be able to help diagnose this disease by performing a range of breathing tests to try to determine if you have asthma and how severe it is. If you have a severe case of asthma your GP may refer you to a specialist medical doctor for assessment and treatment. Since Asthma has no cure the treatment will focus on managing your condition whilst reducing any flare ups, a puffer is the most common treatment for this disease which can be prescribed by your GP.

When having a asthma attack Asthma Australia recommends to stop and rest, sit upright in a chair, and take four puffs of your asthma medication, with a spacer if you have one. If the symptoms are not relieved after four minutes, take the puffer four times again. If there is still no improvement, call 0-0-0.

How can physiotherapy help with Asthma?

Physiotherapy is important in the management of asthma. Your physiotherapist will help educate you about your condition in the follwoing ways:

  • How to clean your devices correctly to ensure you are receiving the correct dosage
  • They can prescribe and develop an exercise program for you as some exercises may induce an asthma attack. These may include at home exercises. You will be shown what to do before and after exercises to reduce the risk of flare ups.
  • Showing you the different types of asthma devices such as puffers, Turbuhalers, Autohalers and tablet devices as they all work slightly differently.
  • Can teach you breathing exercises to help with your asthma.

How effective is physiotherapy for Asthma?

Growing evidence has shown that exercise and breathing techniques are able to help with the management of asthma in which your GP and Physiotherapist will discuss with you. An action plan may be used to help with management which involves having a plan for what medication to take when you are stable, how to detect if your asthma is getting worse, and what medications to take if your asthma is getting worse.

How long until I am recovered?

Unfortunately, Asthma has no cure so management is necessary to reduce symptoms where possible. During a flare up it is possible that symptoms can be relieved within five minutes of taking medication while long term benefits take much longer to occur. It has been shown that exercise is beneficial for long term management.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.