Asthma FAQs answered

Matt Woodley

7/05/2019 1:33:59 PM

As part of World Asthma Day, the National Asthma Council has provided healthcare professionals with answers to common questions.

Asthma inhaler
Do all adults and children need to use spacers? Find out below.

National Asthma Council Director and GP, Professor Amanda Barnard, told newsGP it is important for primary healthcare professionals to mark World Asthma Day, as GPs provide the cornerstone of care for most Australians with the condition.
‘It is a good opportunity to reflect on the asthma care GPs provide, both to check in on the latest in best practice for yourself, and to make sure your patients are proactively thinking about their asthma,’ she said.
‘GPs can find up-to-date information about asthma management and care in the National Asthma Council’s flagship online publication, the Australian Asthma Handbook, which provides best-practice evidence-based guidance for all healthcare professionals.’
Professor Barnard added that it is natural for patients to have questions about how they can better manage their asthma and allergies, especially as asthma affects 10% of Australians and allergies affect one in five.
‘It’s imperative that we help Australians be better informed about their condition while making sure they take a proactive approach to reviewing their asthma management and care,’ she said.
‘We [are] reminding patients to discuss their asthma with their doctor, review their written asthma action plan, update their My Health Record if they have opted-in and get their annual influenza vaccination.
‘We’re also equipping healthcare professionals with the patient resources and Australian Asthma Handbook information they need to continue making a lasting difference to their patients’ lives.’
Below are the National Asthma Council’s five most popular asthma-related questions.

  1. Spacers – do adults and children need them? I've heard conflicting advice
    Everyone who uses a metered dose inhaler (MDI) or puffer for their medications should use a spacer. Breathing the medicine in through a spacer allows more of the medicine to reach the small airways of the lungs and helps prevent side effects.
    Health professional resource: Use and care of spacers
  1. I’ve got asthma and I’m pregnant – should I avoid or stop taking my asthma medication?
    No, don’t stop taking them as many women find their asthma changes during pregnancy. Medications for asthma have been shown to be very safe for both mother and baby and stopping them can put you and your baby at risk. Discuss your medications and how to take them before and during pregnancy with your doctor.
    Health professional resource: Managing asthma during pregnancy
  1. I take medications for allergic rhinitis related to my asthma. Should I try complementary therapies?
    When considering complementary therapies, look at whether studies have been done which provide evidence that the therapy is proven to work for asthma. If there is insufficient evidence, the complementary therapy is not recommended.
    Health professional resource: Handbook table 78
  1. Is there a link between asthma and reflux?
    Gastric reflux can mimic asthma or for those with asthma, reflux can make the symptoms worse. Discuss reflux management with your doctor.
    Health professional resource: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and asthma
  1. I'm over 65 – how can I tell if it’s really asthma or if it’s emphysema?
    Some people develop asthma for the first time in later adulthood. Discuss breathing problems with your doctor and undertake lung function testing as undiagnosed asthma is risky, or there could be another condition such as COPD or emphysema present.
    Health professional resource: Asthma in older adults

asthma World Asthma Day

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