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Take the asthma quiz

We understand that no two people are the same. We all have different needs and lifestyles, so it is important that you work as a team with your doctor to make sure you're getting the best out of your asthma treatment. Together you can find an option that suits you best.

Take the asthma quiz to help guide the discussion with your doctor.

My answers from the asthma quiz
(www.asthmaknowyouroptions.com.au)

Use these answers to help guide your discussion with your doctor

The information contained within this quiz is not designed to replace the advice of your healthcare professional. Please see your healthcare professional for further information regarding your asthma management

References:

http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/ (Date of access: 04 June 2015)

GSK logo In partnership with: Asthma Australia logo National Asthma Council Australia logo

GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 47 100 162 481). Abbotsford, VIC. AUS/RESP/0018/15 (Date of Approval June 2015)

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The next step is to print your answers and book an appointment with your doctor to discuss your asthma management.

Talk to your doctor about your treatment and management options based on your personal goals and preferences. Together you can find an option that suits you best.

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About Asthma

  • Why it's important to manage your asthma properly

    Did you know that nearly 1 in 2 Australians with asthma still have symptoms?

    Asthma causes your airways to narrow temporarily, causing less oxygen to reach your lungs, which leads to asthma symptoms, like wheezing. But there's also something else happening in the background, called 'inflammation' - a swelling of the lining of the lungs. Inflammation can happen in any part of our body as a reaction to injury, irritation or infection. Increased pain, swelling, redness or warmth around an injured ankle is one example of inflammation. Although you can't see it, asthma causes inflammation in your airways, causing them to be red and swollen. This can even be happening without any obvious asthma symptoms such as wheezing or shortness of breath. But this inflammation causes your lungs to be sensitive to asthma triggers (for example, pollen, animal hair, dust or fumes).

    Because asthma has two things going on (the temporary narrowing of the airways, and also the inflammation) doctors prescribe two different types of asthma treatments, called relievers and preventers:

    • relievers act quickly to relax the muscles around your airways. You use relievers when you have asthma symptoms.
    • preventers treat airway inflammation. Preventers should be used every day, even if you feel well.

    The most important thing to remember about asthma inflammation is that it happens even if you feel well. That's why you need to keep using your preventer inhalers every day, as recommended by your doctor. This will help treat the inflammation that causes your lungs to be sensitive to asthma triggers. By treating your inflammation with a regular preventer, you will eventually need less reliever use.

    References

    Short of Air, national online survey 2010 by National Asthma Council (1000 patients ≥ 18 years old)

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.asthma.partners.org/newfiles/Inflammation.html(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/what-is-asthma(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Poor asthma control can have a big impact on your life

    It's probably no surprise to you that poor asthma control can have a major impact on your lifestyle. But perhaps you've become so used to having symptoms that you don't notice some of things that you're missing out on because of your asthma. Maybe you've believed that this is part of living with asthma.

    Have you ever had to take time off from work or studies, avoided social or sporting activities, or suffered from a bad night's sleep because of your asthma? Perhaps you've even had to go to the hospital emergency department or your local doctor for urgent care because of an asthma attack or flare-up?

    What if your asthma control could be improved to a point that you didn't miss out so much because of your asthma? Do you know what good control looks like? Take a look at our asthma quiz to see whether you think your asthma could be better controlled, and make an appointment with your doctor for an asthma review.

    References

    http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • What does good asthma control look like?

    Asthma cannot be cured, but it is possible to lead a normal and active life if you manage your asthma well. Good asthma control means not missing out on activities because of your asthma, not waking at night with symptoms, and not having asthma flare-ups.

    When you reach a point when you don't have any symptoms, it's easy to think that you no longer need your preventer. But it's the preventer that's done all the work to get you to a point of good asthma control, and it's the preventer that will continue to keep your asthma under control.

    Most people with asthma have inflammation most of the time in their lungs, which is why preventers are used long-term. Relievers may also be needed from time to time to treat temporary tightening of the airways from triggers such as colds and flu, cigarette smoke, cold air, etc.

    Here is what you could look forward to with good asthma control:

    • No night-time asthma symptoms
    • No need for reliever inhalers as often
    • No restriction of day-to-day activities
    • No days off school or work due to asthma
    • No asthma attacks or flare-ups

    Don't get used to poor asthma control. It should not be normal to wake up during the night because of asthma symptoms, or to avoid some activities because of your asthma. You should not need to use your reliever inhaler more than 2 days per week (except before exercise or as directed by your doctor). If any of this sounds familiar, see your doctor for an asthma review.

    References

    http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/what-is-asthma-(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/asthma-tools/check-your-asthma-control(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Understanding the different asthma treatments

    Nearly everyone can achieve good asthma control with the right asthma treatment. The different asthma medicine can be grouped into the following types:

    • relievers that act quickly to relax the muscles around the airways - used to quickly treat asthma symptoms
    • preventers that reduce airways inflammation- they should be used every day, even if you feel well
    • combination inhalers that contain both a preventer and a long-acting bronchodilator - they should be used every day, and sometimes more often when you have asthma symptoms

    Your doctor will work with you to find the right asthma treatment that achieves the best possible control of symptoms and avoids flare-ups. All medicines have possible side effects so ask your doctor what they are and what you can do to avoid them. Your doctor wants to find the best solution for you as an individual, so make sure you ask any questions and talk about any concerns so that together you can find the best treatment for you.

    There are various treatment options that come in different types of inhalers and can be taken at different times of the day (eg. once daily or twice daily). Here is some additional information about the different groups of medicine.

    Relievers

    Relievers are fast-acting for quick relief of asthma symptoms. They should not be used every day to prevent symptoms, but are sometimes used before exercise.

    Relievers work by relaxing the muscle that surrounds the airway, allowing the airway to open up. They should not be used on a regular basis to prevent symptoms. Possible side-effects include increased heart rate, shaking (especially in the hands), slight feelings of anxiety, dry mouth and throat irritation.

    If you are using your reliever more than 2 days per week (other than before exercise or as directed by your doctor), your asthma control could be improved, and you should make an appointment with your doctor for an asthma review.

    Preventers

    Preventers treat the inflammation that makes the airways sensitive to asthma triggers. They should be used every day, even if you feel well.

    Preventers come in two types, called corticosteroid preventers and non-steroidal preventers. Most people use an Inhaled corticosteroid preventer. Possible side-effects of corticosteroids include sore throat, hoarse voice and oral fungal infection (thrush). You can lower your chance of having these side effects by rinsing your mouth with water after using your preventer. Perhaps even consider using your preventer before you brush your teeth. It might help you to remember to use your inhaler and also help lower your risk of thrush.

    Combination Therapies

    Combination therapies contain a preventer (inhaled corticosteroid) and a medicine (long acting bronchodilator) that relaxes the airway muscles for longer than a reliever can. Combination therapies are usually used when a preventer alone does not give enough asthma control.

    The preventer in combination therapies is an inhaled corticosteroid, and the medicine that relaxes the airway muscles is called a long-acting beta2 agonist (or LABA). LABA also comes in single medicine inhalers, but it always needs to be used with a preventer treatment. Possible side-effects of combination therapies include shaking hands, fast heartbeat, headaches, sore throat, hoarse voice and oral thrush. You can reduce your chance of getting oral thrush by rinsing your mouth out each time you use the inhaler.

    References

    http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/asthma-medicines(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/asthma_treatments.aspx(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Other ways to help manage your asthma

    One way to help manage your asthma is to avoid asthma triggers - those things that cause your asthma to flare up.

    You may already know the types of things that make your asthma worse. Common asthma triggers include dust, pollen, and animal hair. Cigarette smoke and certain foods are also triggers.

    Different people have different triggers, and once you know what triggers your asthma, you can take steps to avoid these things or at least minimise your exposure to them. Make sure you know ways to lower asthma triggers in your home, which may include making sure you have good ventilation in the home and removing as much dust as possible.

    Your doctor may have other ideas to help manage your asthma. Find out more from your doctor.

    References

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma_friendly_home?open(date of access 04 June 2015)

    https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/document-library/clinical-information/asthma/btssign-asthma-guideline-2009/(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Making sure you take your asthma preventer the way you should

    Most people know when to reach for their reliever to help ease asthma symptoms, but it's easy to miss a dose of preventer without even thinking about it. It's these missed doses that can cause problems in the long run, because not using your prescribed preventer can lead to more asthma symptoms.

    Do you miss doses of your preventer because you forget about it, or find that you're too busy to remember to take it? Or perhaps you consciously avoid regularly using your preventer because you're worried about side effects, or don't think that you need it as often as the doctor has recommended?

    It's important that you work as a team with your doctor to make sure you're getting the best out of your asthma treatment. Ask the questions that will help you understand the reasons your doctor has chosen a particular treatment for you. And consider setting treatment goals and writing an asthma action plan together with your doctor. Work with him or her to arrive at a treatment choice that fits your lifestyle and preferences, and puts you in the driver's seat for taking control of your asthma.

    References

    http://www.uptodate.com/contents/enhancing-patient-adherence-to-asthma-therapy(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/management/adherence(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.nps.org.au/conditions/respiratory-problems/chronic-airways-and-breathing-problems/asthma/health-professionals/ongoing-management/checking-adherence(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Take control of your asthma

    Working with your doctor to find the best treatments and schedule that fit your lifestyle goes a long way to helping you take control of your asthma. Ask as many questions as you need to feel that you understand exactly what is needed for good asthma control.

    Your doctor, asthma educator and pharmacist are all part of your team to get your asthma under control.

    Ask them for information on the different roles of each of your asthma treatments, get them to explain possible side effects and how to minimise them, and ask one of them to check your inhaler technique.

    If you have trouble with one of your inhaler devices, you can ask your doctor to repeat the instructions and demonstration. You should also regularly review your asthma action plan with your doctor. By working with your healthcare team, you have the best possible chance to get your asthma under control.

    For further information, please contact:
    Asthma Australia (1800 ASTHMA; www.asthmaaustralia.org.au)
    National Asthma Council Australia (www.nationalasthma.org.au)

    References

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma_management(date of access 04 June 2015)

  • Are you using your inhaler correctly?

    Perhaps you've been using your inhaler a long time and think there's not much more to know about using it properly. But would it surprise you to know that up to 9 out of 10 of people are thought to use their inhalers incorrectly? Using your inhaler properly is important to get the full benefits of your treatment.

    There are two main types of inhalers: metered dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers. Your doctor will generally choose a device for you.

    Everyone needs to be trained how to use an inhaler correctly, and each inhaler device is different. This training can come from a doctor, nurse, asthma educator or pharmacist.

    When you use an inhaler correctly, it can help the treatment work at its best because more of it makes it into the lungs. Proper technique can also lower the chance you'll get side effects like oral thrush. Proper use of inhalers helps the medicines work properly and can reduce the risk of side-effects.

    Sometimes doctors will suggest the use of a spacer (a specially designed container that attaches to the device and has its own mouthpiece to breathe through). A spacer makes it easier to use the inhaler correctly, and can be used with most metered dose inhalers, but not with dry powder inhalers.

    If it's been a while since you showed your doctor or other healthcare professional how you use your inhaler, make sure you check with them again to make sure you're getting the most out of your inhaler.

    References

    http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/using-your-medicines-correctly(date of access 04 June 2015)

    http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/asthma_treatments.aspx(date of access 04 June 2015)