Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways (the breathing tubes that carry air into our lungs). From time to time, people with asthma find it harder to breathe in and out, because the airways in their lungs become narrower – like trying to breathe through a thin straw. At other times their breathing is normal. Asthma is more common in families with asthma or allergies, but not everyone with asthma has allergies. It is common in children, but it can also start later. Asthma often starts as wheezing at preschool age. Not all wheezing is asthma – many preschool children who wheeze do not have asthma by primary school age. Adults of any age can develop asthma, even if they did not have asthma as a child.
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by different things for different people. Common triggers include exercise, cigarette smoke, colds and flu, and allergens in the air (e.g. grass pollen). The most common forms of asthma are:
- Wheezing – a high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
- A feeling of not being able to get enough air or being short of breath
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
What can I do?
There is no cure for asthma, but it can usually be well controlled. Most people with asthma can stay active and have a healthy life.
For good control of asthma, you need:
- Avoid or at least minimise known triggers.
- Medicines – taken the right way, at the right time.
- Regular medical visits for check-ups and to learn more about living with asthma.
- An action plan, so you know exactly what to do when symptoms happen
Why you should use a Spacer
Using a spacer helps control your intake of your asthma medication. This not only ensures you get the prescribed amount, but that you inhale it in a way that’s comfortable for you straight into your lungs. Ordinary inhalers require you to press a button that releases the medication, and then take a deep breath immediately. This rapid set of actions can be challenging for some people. A spacer can make it easier to coordinate breathing in and pressing your puffer. and you don’t have to rush your intake of the medication. A spacer also helps reduce the amount of medication that remains in your mouth and throat after you breathe in a dose resulting in less irritation or potential mild infections.
Spacers should be used by:
- All children – kids aged under 4–5 years will need a mask attached
- All adults taking a corticosteroid preventer medication (e.g. Flixotide, Symbicort) using an MDI/puffer
- Adults who have trouble coordinating the ‘press and breathe’ technique when using an MDI/puffer
- Anyone taking a reliever medication (e.g. Ventolin) during an asthma attack.
National Asthma Council Australia. (2020). Understanding Asthma. https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/what-is-asthma