Is asthma part of your personal or family reality? Nonetheless, it is possible to lead a normal and active life with some adjustments.
Asthma—a common respiratory disorder
Asthma is among the most common diseases in the world. More than 2 million Canadians must live with asthma, and this disease is associated with roughly 500 deaths per year. Although cases involving death are more and more rare, a number of people see their well-being, quality of life, and health seriously affected by asthma.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterized by an obstruction of the airways caused by bronchial inflammation and contraction and increased production of mucus. Consequently, the lungs receive less air and breathing becomes difficult. Asthma symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- chest tightness, and
Asthma in children
If your child lives with asthma, it's important to inform school or daycare service staff. Ideally, your child should have an action plan if symptoms or an asthma attack occurs. All of the caregivers responsible for your child should have a copy of this plan, which should include certain key information, including the following:
- symptoms that require taking the medication
- medication to administer
- how to properly administer the medication, and
- person to call in case of an emergency
A child with asthma should always have easy access to his/her rescue medication, which should be well identified and accompanied by instructions for use.
Asthma and exercise
In general, people who have asthma shouldn't have difficulty exercising if their asthma is well controlled. However, the ability to practise a physical activity can be compromised in some cases. Moreover, it should be noted that exercise is among the factors that can trigger asthma symptoms.
Several elements influence the onset of asthma symptoms during the course of a physical activity, including the degree of control of the disease, temperature, inhaled allergens, pollution level or the type of effort. The onset of asthma symptoms during exercise can sometimes be indicative that it is time to review the treatment plan and see a healthcare professional.
People with asthma should not avoid exercise, but simply ensure that their condition is well managed, so they can enjoy their favourite activities without having to deal with asthma symptoms.
Asthma and smoking
Cigarettes are one of your health's worst enemies, and this is especially true for people with asthma! If you or a family member suffers from asthma, it is imperative to quit smoking. Direct or indirect exposure to cigarette smoke triggers asthma symptoms, causing significant damage to the lungs, which adds to the damage caused by asthma itself.
If you decide to quit smoking, ask for a consultation with your pharmacist, who can help you in several ways, for instance, by:
- explaining the benefits of smoke cessation
- helping you choose a smoking cessation aid and explaining how to use it
- prescribing a smoking cessation aid (nicotine replacement therapy), and
- giving you sound advice to make the transition easier
Asthma and medication
There are several safe and effective prescription medications available that can help you control your asthma. They are divided into two main types: "controller" medications (prevention) and "rescue" medications. Your healthcare professional will make an action plan with you to determine how to best use the medication to treat your asthma. You will probably have to take at least one medication daily to prevent asthma symptoms.
Consistency is the key to treating asthma. Because certain individuals do not have symptoms, they do not take their medication or do not take it properly. This is a serious mistake. If you have received a diagnosis for asthma, but have no symptoms, all the better! This most likely means that you manage your asthma consistently and rigorously. Continue to follow your action plan.
As a medication expert, your pharmacist can help you to adequately control your asthma. Pharmacists can:
- help you to develop an action plan
- inform you on how to optimally and safely use your medications, and
- provide advice to reduce the negative impact of asthma on your health and your life
Never hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for any information about asthma, its treatment or on the ways to better live with the condition!