Asthma is a disease of the airways. For various reasons they narrow and this makes it difficult to get the air in and out of our lungs. It is often related to allergy and is more common in people with a family history of asthma, hay fever or even eczema. The commonest triggering factor for an attack of asthma is an infection, but it may be brought on by changes in temperature, emotion, or environmental allergens such as grasses or animal dander.
It generally presents with wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath or a combination of all three. It may be severe and if poorly managed can occasionally be life threatening.
The best way we know to prevent asthma is for the parents not to smoke either during or after the pregnancy. The first attack is often as a child and most kids improve as they get older. But there are a few unfortunate adults that can develop asthma later in life.
It is very treatable and depending on the frequency and severity of attacks there are a number of medications to both prevent attacks and treat them if they occur.
Your GP will prescribe what he/she thinks are appropriate treatments, but they will only work if taken as prescribed. The most common problem with asthma puffers is that people don’t use them properly. Next time you visit your doctor make sure you check that you are using your medicines correctly and that you understand your action plan if your asthma gets worse!