Getting Started - The Facts 3 million Canadians have asthma—that’s 10% of the population. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed. Over 500 Canadians die each year from usually preventable asthma related incidents. You can still lead a completely normal life with asthma, with some adjustments
What is Asthma?
Chronic lung condition
Reversible reactive airway obstruction
Tightening of the muscles surrounding the bronchial passages in the lungs
Asthma is a variable condition
Can be developed at any age
Symptoms of Asthma
(shortness of breath)
Symptoms and severity of symptoms can change over time
May not have all of the above symptoms
What Causes Asthma Symptoms?
Occurs when exposed to a trigger
Muscles surrounding bronchioles contract and produce excess mucus
Airways become red, inflamed (swollen) and narrow
Asthma can’t be cured (yet!! )
Managed using medications and trigger avoidance (except for exercise!)
(This is most of the medication I’ve taken in the past 6-7 months!)
Treatment: Rescue Medication
Known as rescue, reliever and quick relief medications
Reverses symptoms fast
inhaled directly to the lungs
Begins working immediately, peaks at 5-10 minutes
Used for sudden symptoms or to prevent exercise induced flare-ups.
Should be carried at ALL times by ANY person with asthma
Treatment: Controller Medication
Prevents asthma symptoms from starting
Taken daily by people with persistent asthma
Brings down inflammation /treats constriction
oral corticosteroids (not the same as anabolic steroids) Leukotriene modifier (LTRA)—alternative or addition to corticosteroids Corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator (LABA) Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS’s)
Common Asthma Triggers Extrinsic (Allergic) Triggers:
Intrinsic (Non-Allergic) Triggers:
Infections (cold and flu)
Cold or humid air
Intense emotions (ex. stress)
Medications (ex. aspirin)
Fragrances and chemicals
Exercise and Asthma
Exercise can induce asthma symptoms in people who have no other asthma triggers.
Exercise is a trigger for 90% of people with asthma.
Exercise should not be avoided, but worked with!
Preventing exercise induced flare-ups:
Don’t begin to exercise if you are already flaring!
If prescribed take medication 5-15 minutes before exercise
Warm up and cool down gradually for 10-20 minutes
If you have a flare-up, stop and take your medication, resume only when symptom-free
Dealing with Exercise Induced Asthma
AeroChamber Other Asthma Gadgets Peak Flow Meter
Used by some (usually moderate or severe) asthma patients to monitor ongoing lung function and detect changes
How much air is expelled in 1 exhalation
Also known as a “spacer” or valved holding chamber (VHC)
MDI alone fires at over 100 km/h
Delivers medication over 100% more effectively
Asthma and the Wellness Picture
To a person with persistent asthma, asthma can be a lot more than a blue inhaler!
If not dealt with effectively, asthma can impact many areas of a person’s life . . . Physical, emotional and social.
Some of the time, you can coexist fairly peacefully with asthma, but others it feels as if your body is working AGAINST you instead of with you !
Getting in Control
“ Control” may be different for everybody
Except for exercise, avoid triggers as much as possible