Southern DHB Respiratory Services
Public Service, Respiratory
Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest and trouble breathing. Asthma occurs when the main breathing tubes of your lungs are over-sensitive and react to things that don’t affect other people. As a result of this they become swollen and narrow.
If your asthma is not getting better with standard treatment (preventer and reliever inhalers) or if you are having more asthma attacks than you or your doctor are comfortable with, you may be referred to a specialist.
In most cases you’ll be asked to give a complete medical history and will also be examined by the doctor. Sometimes other conditions can appear like asthma or complicate asthma, so you may be asked to have some tests to help in the diagnosis.
Tests looking for severity and complicating features of asthma include:
chest X-ray, spirometry and CT chest. For more details see below.
You may, however, not need any of these tests.
This includes taking medicines as well as changing some lifestyle factors. A peak flow meter can be used to keep a watch on your asthma and help with plans to prevent attacks. Stopping smoking is very important as is learning to recognise what brings an asthma attack on.
Asthma is treated with inhaled medicines. There are two types:
1. a preventer medicine is taken every day. It soothes the irritated breathing tubes and prevents worsening of asthma, “asthma attacks”.
2. a reliever treats the asthma attacks. It relaxes the tightened muscles around the breathing tubes.
For more information on asthma see www.asthmanz.co.nz