By taking your Preventer everyday as directed and by managing your triggers (eg- with antihistamines, your environment, healthy diet, staying active, premedicate with your reliever inhaler if required before exercise).Q: Will I always need to be on an inhaler?
Not necessarily. Asthma changes over your lifetime. Once your asthma is more under control and inflammation in your airways is reduced, your doctor may advise you to reduce your Preventer, as long as you do not require more than 2 puffs of Reliever medication per week.Q: Do I still need to use a spacer, I thought that was only for when I was younger?
Yes, a spacer should be used with all MDI’s (such as Ventolin, Respigen, Flixotide, Seretide etc) regardless of your age. A spacer will give you a greater (different designs of spacers give different amounts but range from 32%-47%) percentage of medication dose than using the MDI alone (15% if taken perfectly as much of the medication gets stuck on your tongue and back of the throat) . Breathing in and out 6 times per puff with a spacer increases the amount of medication that reaches your lungs.
Q: I always get symptoms when I play sport, how can I help this?
You can take your Reliever inhaler (with a spacer if using an MDI) 5-20 mins prior to exercising to prevent exercise induced asthma symptoms. You can also take it again during sport if necessary. Making sure you’re taking your Preventer as directed every day is the most important step in controlling your asthma symptoms. Cold air can trigger asthma symptoms. One way to try and help minimise exercise induced asthma is to breathe through your nose while exercising.Q: I CAN’T GET TO THE DOCTOR TO GET MEDICATION. WHAT CAN I DO?
Speak to the school nurse to see what can be arranged. It is important to have regular check-ups for your asthma and to make sure you have enough in date Preventer and reliever medication. Check with your Pharmacy to see if you have any repeat prescriptions still available if you are about to run out. Contact your GP practice as you may be able to ask them to fax a prescription to your pharmacy to collect.Q: I HATE TAKING MY PREVENTER TWICE A DAY AND I TEND TO FORGET MY NIGHT DOSE AS I AM TIRED FROM SCHOOL OR GET HOME LATE FROM SPORTS. WHAT CAN I DO?
Please talk to your GP as there are preventers you can use once a day (e.g. Breo). Breo works over a 24-hour period. To help jog your memory to take your preventer morning and night, can you think of something you do twice a day? Eg have your inhaler by your toothbrush in the bathroom? Or with your phone charger? (e.g. plug phone in at night and then unplug it on waking)Q: I AM ASHAMED TO USE MY INHALER AND SPACER AROUND MY FRIENDS, WHAT CAN I DO?
We fully understand this can be challenging and there is no simple answer to this. But you can try the following:
Learn to be empowered in managing your asthma – Empower yourself with correct and factual information on your asthma and how to manage it. We would encourage you to talk to your health professional such as your GP, School Nurse or Asthma Nurse Educator. Be skeptical of the information you hear or see on social platforms, as this information is not always factually correct. Misinformation can breed misunderstanding, which can lead to mismanagement, leading to poor asthma management for you.
Try educating your friends on asthma so that they are more aware of what you have to consider for example, when playing sports.
Find a quiet place to use your inhaler.
Talk to your GP about switching to a device that does not require a spacer and so more discreet (e.g. turbuhaler)
The more you talk normally about asthma, the more ‘normal’ it becomes to your friends. Asthma does not have to define you or limit your activities like playing sports. It might help to know that 1 in 7 children have asthma and 1 in 8 adults, so there is a very high chance some of your friends will have asthma too.
To speak with an Asthma NZ nurse further click here. There are also some great videos here to help you educate yourself around managing your asthma to live your best life.