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Asthma Attacks Set To Soar This Winter

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Australians with asthma are being warned to be extra vigilant during winter, as hospitalisations due to asthma are set to spike in June, particularly for adults above 65 years.
Respiratory infections typically rise during winter, with the common cold being the cause of 4 out of 5 asthma flare-ups or attacks. Older people and those with severe asthma who get the flu may be at risk of more serious complications like pneumonia.
Australia has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world, with 1 in 10 people, or over 2 million Australians impacted by the condition. Hospitalisations due to asthma are highest during the winter period for adults.
According to Dr Noela Whitby, Chair of the National Asthma Council Australia and General Practitioner, exposure to cold dry air is a common asthma trigger as it causes airways to tighten and can quickly lead to severe symptoms.
“People with exercise-induced asthma who participate in winter sports are especially susceptible. During physical activity, people breathe through their mouths, which allow cold, dry air to reach the lower airways and lungs without passing through the nose, triggering asthma symptoms.
“Winter also brings cold weather and keeps us inside, where indoor triggers such as dust mites, pet allergens and smoke can trigger asthma symptoms.”
The National Asthma Council Australia with a grant from GlaxoSmithKline Australia has also recently launched its asthma action plan translated into the community languages of Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Serbian and Turkish.
“Australians should have access to accurate asthma information as well as effective asthma management, irrespective of the language they speak.
“Research has found that when people with asthma have an action plan and are engaged in their  asthma management, they have fewer asthma flare-ups, take fewer days off work or school and reduce their reliever medication use. Most importantly, action plans help avoid emergency visits to the hospital and provide peace of mind for people with asthma and their families.”

Winter asthma check list 
It is important that Australians with asthma make sure their lungs are in the best possible shape for winter. The National Asthma Council Australia recommends the following key steps to deal with asthma:
1. Get your lungs checked — See your doctor for an asthma review before the cold and flu season arrives. Your doctor can check the health of your lungs and work out if you need to change your asthma medicines so you stay well over winter.
2. Follow your asthma action plan — Together with your doctor, develop or update your personal written asthma action plan with instructions on how to manage your asthma over winter. This asthma plan can also be stored on the Asthma Buddy app which ensures you can act quickly wherever you are to prevent a mild flare-up from turning into a serious one.
3. Protect yourself — Keep warm if cold air triggers your asthma. Avoid contact with anyone who’s sick and control germs by washing your hands regularly. You can also ask your doctor about a flu vaccination.
4. Use your medications wisely — Tell your doctor if you have been using your reliever puffer more than twice a week or are having asthma symptoms at night. These are important signs that your lungs may not be in the best condition for winter colds and flu. If you have been prescribed a preventer medication make sure you use it – even if you feel well.
5. Take extra care if you are over 65 — Colds and flu can hit extra hard in seniors with asthma so ask your doctor about flu and/or pneumonia vaccinations. Make sure you’re taking your medicines the best way – ask your pharmacist or nurse to check you’re using your puffer or inhaler correctly.
Information on the Asthma Buddy app and asthma action plans are available at the National Asthma Council Australia website:

(Source: National Asthma Council Australia)

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Posted On: 21 June, 2014
Modified On: 19 June, 2014


Created by: myVMC