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Frequently asked questions about asthma

After being diagnosed with asthma, you may have plenty of questions.  Here are some frequently asked questions about asthma. Talk to your asthma care team if you have concerns.

1. How can I prevent asthma attacks?

There are many things you can do to prevent worsening of your asthma and an asthma attack. Some of the most important are:

  • Minimise asthma triggers. People with asthma can take an active role in controlling their condition by identifying what triggers their asthma attacks and taking measures to minimise these triggers at home, work or school. For example, if cats and dogs trigger your asthma, then not having a cat or dog or minimising exposure to them will help to reduce the frequency and severity of your asthma attacks. If there is a situation where you cannot avoid the trigger, taking appropriate medicines beforehand, which have been prescribed by your doctor, can help prevent symptoms.
  • Take your asthma medicine. Many people with chronic asthma take medicines (usually an inhaled corticosteroid) that decrease and prevent inflammation of the airways. Studies show that taking these medicines on a daily basis decreases your risk of having asthma attacks. If your doctor recommends you have a daily asthma medicine, it is important that you take it as prescribed and do not miss a dose.

2. How can I discover my allergies?

If you suspect that you have allergies which trigger your asthma, speak to your doctor and he or she may refer you to a specialist who can help identify your allergies.

3. My asthma worsens whenever I take pain relief. Why?

One possibility is that you are sensitive to aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines ( NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. You should seek medical advice to discuss this. This can be a serious asthma trigger and you may be advised to avoid these medicines.  

4. What are the side effects of my bronchodilator medicine?

Side effects of bronchodilators are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Nervousness.

These bronchodilator side effects tend to occur more with oral forms (pills and liquids that you swallow) than with inhaled forms. However, sometimes even with inhaled forms these can occur. They generally go away as your body adjusts to the medicine. If they become bothersome and continue to occur, seek medical advice.

5. Can asthma medicines affect my baby if I am pregnant?

It is normal for mothers-to-be to feel uneasy about taking medicines while pregnant. However, if a pregnant woman has asthma, it is especially important that her asthma is well controlled not only for her own health but also for the health and development of her unborn child. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about your asthma so that your airways can be stabilised and appropriate medicines prescribed. The risks of uncontrolled asthma in pregnancy are greater than the risks of taking necessary asthma medicines.

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