Did you know that 400 people have died from asthma in the past year?
That's more than one a day and an "unacceptable" amount according to Asthma Australia's senior manager for research information and evaluation Anthony Flynn.
Asthma is a chronic disease and a condition of airway inflammation. With regular treatment it doesn't need to get in the way of life for most suffers. However, it's when people ignore asthma that issues arise.
Two major misconceptions about asthma is that it's not dangerous and that it only exists when there are symptoms like wheezing or shortness of breath.
"Some people think that their asthma only exists when they've got symptoms, they think that this is their asthma and that it's taken care of through the reliever,"
"That's not the case, asthma is a chronic condition and it's always there. The person might not have symptoms but the airway is still inflamed.
"It's like high blood pressure there aren't always symptoms but you don't stop taking the medication.
"This is the primary misconception we want to debunk.
"The other is that asthma is not dangerous and that it's a child's disease that will be grown out of," Anthony said.
"Asthma kills more than 400 people a year. Among those people who tragically lost their lives many had a mild case. The insidiousness of the disease means that when it's not taken seriously it can be life threatening."
A dangerous time of year for asthma sufferers is summer with many triggers like smoke from bushfires, duststroms, pollen and changes in weather and air quality.
When children return to school also a peak in asthma-related hospital presentations.
The exact reason behind it hasn't been pinpointed but Asthma Australia believe it's due to irregular preventer use over the summer holidays which keeps their asthma under control generally.
"Be vigilant and ensure you're taking regular daily prescribed preventer medicine," Anthony said.
Preventers revolutionised asthma when they were developed at the end of last century.
"Flare ups and asthma attacks were almost nonexistent once they were introduced, most people with asthma can get results from it," Anthony said.
"Further advancements include tailored preventers for individuals and the development of injectable monoclonal antibiotics in the past decade which changed the lives of people with severe asthma who preventers didn't work for."
For more Asthma information go to asthma.org.au/ or talk to your doctor.
Stay asthma safe
Follow these tips to keep your asthma under control and stay safe:
- Preventer use is the best thing to do. Use any measures recommended by your doctor and work on your treatment plan until you're satisfied.
- Pay attention to factors that trigger your asthma. There are hundreds of different triggers but the main ones are smoke, pollen, dust mite allergy, extremes in weather and changes in air temperature. Try to avoid your triggers as best you can.
- If there is smoke try to put physical barriers between the smoke and your lungs. Shut doors and windows, wear a facemask (P2 or N95) and ensure it fits.
- Talk to the council or a builder about how porous your home is and investigate ways to prevent smoke inflow from outside.
- Consider investing in an air purifier or air cleaner with a HEPA filter which will filter our small particles that can cause problems.
Read this story and more health-related stories in this year's Bendigo and Health Services Directory.