The feeling of asphyxiation is one of the least pleasant experiences. Anyone who has struggled to break the surface of the water, or felt crushed in a crowd of people can attest to this. But for some people, it can happen after doing something as simple as walking outside. Yes, life for Asthmatics is a little more stressful. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the risks. Today, we will track through some of the FAQs about asthma.
What is it?
Asthma is the condition where an external stimulus causes swelling around your airways which narrows the actual spaces for your breath. It also causes the production of excess mucus which is why you might hear a coughing or a wheezing sound when an asthmatic is in the middle of an episode. The severity of this varies: some people will find it to be an inconvenient shortness of breath during exercise, whereas for other people, it can be a life threatening condition.
How common is it in Australia?
Much more common than you would imagine. Around 2.7 million people around the country have asthma. That is roughly 11% of the population, which is one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma anywhere in the world. It is much more likely to afflict females than males, and the statistics only get worse if you are above 75. Each year, an asthmatic attack claims the life of almost 500 Australians, and they are often out and about in their community which makes it all the more visible. Even if asthma is lethal for everyone, it still plays a massive role in your overall health and quality of life. The anxiety of worrying about your airways closing up weighs heavy on asthma sufferers, and the necessity to take daily medication is both stressful and expensive.
Can I cure it?
Well, no. Not entirely. However, you can manage asthma fairly successfully with the help of a few products readily available on an online pharmacy Australia. Firstly, there are inhalers which release medicines to alleviate swelling in your airways. What most people forget is the importance of a spacer or chamber (the bigger boxier section that should go between your mouth and the inhaler). An inhaler releases the medicine at 95 km per hour. That means that a lot of it hits the back of your throat and is immediately exhaled. The spacer keeps all the medication in the chamber, increasing the impact by as much as 70%. These are also available from an online pharmacy Australia. There are many other options such as theophylline or Leukotriene modifiers, but these are best used in consultation with your GP.
Why do some people get asthma?
There are a few factors in common with people who have asthma. Firstly, it can be genetic, with the predisposition passed down from a parent who also had asthma. But it can also be circumstantial. If you had a severe respiratory infection when you were younger, you are far more likely to become asthmatic as an adult. Alternatively, if you have been exposed to a high levels of chemicals or dust in your workplace, this can cause asthma in later life.
What are the triggers?
Again, this will vary for different people.
- Sinus infections can cause asthmatic reactions in some people
- An allergic reaction can trigger the tightening of your airways
- Sudden exposure to pollen can restrict breathing for some people
- Coming into contact with specific chemicals can trigger others
- For others, it can be physical exercise
- Excessively humid or cold air is a common cause
- As is certain fragrances often found in deodorants and perfumes
What are the symptoms?
This might be the most important question, because knowing this can save a life.
- They might experience a severe shortness of breath
- Alternatively, there might be tightness or pain around their diaphragm and upper chest
- They may begin to cough and wheeze as the body produces excess mucus in response to the stimulus
What should I do if I find someone in this situation?
This can be difficult because it isn’t always apparent as to whether it is an asthmatic attack or anaphylaxis. If in doubt, use an Epipen as soon as possible and call an ambulance (these can also be purchased from an online pharmacy Australia). Then, you should follow these steps which are more specific to an asthmatic attack.
- Sit the person upright so they are as comfortable as possible. Try to reassure them so they are relaxed. When we panic, we tend to take short shallow breaths, and when their airways are already restricted, this is not helpful.
- Give four puffs from the regular blue and grey inhaler. This will contain either Asmol, ventolin or Zempreon. Ideally, you would have a spacer in between the inhaler and the patient. Each time you puff, ask them to take four good breaths before you do another puff.
- Wait four minutes.
- If they are getting worse or feeling about the same, repeat the four puffs and four breaths pattern until the ambulance arrives
- If they are beginning to feel an easing of the airways, you might want to cancel the ambulance and take them to a GP or Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital. Temporary relief should not be mistaken for safety. They can still be in danger if this repeats itself within a three hour window.
- If the person is a child, you will need to hold the spacer and the inhaler for them as they tend to become lethargic and sluggish.
If the person loses consciousness, you will need to go into the DRSABCD of first aid. Assuming you have already ascertained danger, response, and have sent for help, you will need to begin mouth to mouth.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into asthma. This information might well help you to save somebody’s life someday, and we highly recommend taking a first aid course every three years to ensure that it is all fresh in your head.