With fires continuing to burn across NSW and a thick cloud of wood smoke present in many areas, Asthma Foundation NSW is urging people with asthma to make sure they have their asthma medication at hand as symptoms can quickly escalate and become extremely dangerous.
“It is vital that all people with asthma carry their reliever medication at all times and continue to take their preventer medication regularly. Preventer medications help to reduce the reaction in the airways to triggers like bushfire smoke, which can prevent a severe attack that reliever medication may not be strong enough to overcome,” said Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW.
“We understand that as people need to leave their homes quickly that it is easy to leave medications behind. We are urging people in bushfire-affected areas to speak to their community pharmacists who can help them get medication to keep them well”.
“Community pharmacists play an integral role during times of emergency as they can provide information, support and dispense medications to those in need”, said Ms Goldman.
It is important for people with asthma to always carry their reliever medication with them, and use it as soon as they experience symptoms as the faster they respond, the less likely their condition will worsen. The Foundation also recommends always using a spacer if it’s available as it helps get more medication into the lungs.
If people find their reliever isn’t working, or only lasts a few hours, then they need to seek medical help immediately.
Asthma Foundation NSW and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia also want to remind the community that older people, children and those working at the fire front are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the bushfire smoke. It is important for everyone to be vigilant and if they notice someone having breathing difficulties to get them help as quickly as possible.
If people are exposed to bushfire smoke, here are some ways to reduce the effects on their asthma:
- Stay indoors when there is smoke in the area (unless you are advised to evacuate); close all windows and doors and block the air vents.
- If you have an air conditioner, switch it on and set it to recycle, at home and in the car.
- Avoid doing physical activity outdoors while the smoke is around.
- Keep using your preventer medication – it has to be taken every day to work effectively.
The need for rescue asthma medication will continue to be monitored to ensure the needs of affected communities can be met.
Current information on the status of bushfires can be obtained on the Rural Fire Service website at: www.bushfire.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 679 737.
For people who can’t access a General Practitioner, Health Direct provide the ability to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day. They can also put you in touch with a doctor or emergency help if you need it. They can be contacted on 1800 022 222.
People with questions or concerns around this issue can call the Asthma Foundation NSW Information Line on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or visit asthmaaustralia.org.au
(Source: Asthma Australia)