If you are one of the over 600,000 people in New Zealand with asthma you’ve likely asked or wondered; can asthma be cured? Do I have to live with this for life?
The short answer is no – but keep reading there is a lot you can do! The disease is highly treatable. Many people can control their asthma to the point that it hardly affects their wellbeing or quality of life at all.
So I have asthma, it can’t be cured, what can I do?
The good news! Asthma treatments have come a long way from the asthma cigarette (yes it was a thing – see here!)
I’m not personally qualified to comment on or make recommendations as to asthma medication, but I can say that we have also come a long way since the wanton prescribing of the ubiquitous ‘blue puffer’ (salbutamol) inhaler as the only treatment for asthma! The latest tranche of SABA/ICS and LABA/ICS inhalers are providing much better treatment options. SABA reliever as sole therapy (without ICS or ICS/LABA) is no longer recommended in the long-term management of asthma in adolescents or adults. (here: https://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/asthma-and-respiratory-foundation-nz-adolescent-and-adult-asthma-guidelines-2020-a-quick-reference-guide) Disclaimer – you must consult a doctor or suitable qualified health professional before making any changes to your medication usage.
So that’s the medication – my doctor prescribes, I take – what else can I do?
Glad you asked! There is a lot you can do. Some great places to start are listed below:
Follow an Asthma Action Plan
Ask your GP or nurse for a written action plan. These are a great tool, a guideline for how best to manage your asthma and medication at various stages of severity and exacerbation.
Take your medication as prescribed
Your doctor or respiratory nurse really does know best, and they have your best interests at heart. Listen to them, and take your meds as they prescribe.
This is where RespiTrak comes in! When managing asthma, healthcare professionals will look at how you feel, symptoms, medication usage and peak flow measurements. Unfortunately measurements and conversations in the doctors office only capture data for that day and what you can remember. If you use RespiTrak you can present a comprehensive report with all these parameters meticulously recorded and graphed.
This digital record keeping does two things for your asthma management. Firstly, you can see how you are tracking in a very easy graphical way. Knowledge is power, and simply knowing how you are tracking can help you to more effectively manage your asthma. What we can measure we can manage! Secondly, all these data points are clinically important and your doctor or nurse can truly see how the medication and action plan are working! It gives them the data they need to make the changes that are best for you.
Keep in touch with your medical team
Regular appointments with your GP or nurse will really help! It also doesn’t have to be your GP – in many regions in New Zealand there are fantastic asthma and respiratory charities you can call on for help and review. They are listed here: https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/about-us/regional-support
Stop smoking and vaping
Self-explanatory really, but if you thought vaping was a safe alternative, see here: https://dontgetsuckedin.co.nz
I really hope this brief guide helps you on your asthma management journey. Don’t forget, if you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand we have amazing health professionals, access to modern medicines and the best health tech in the world. (OK that last one’s bit biased…) You can live a healthy, active life with asthma. You just need to take notice, take your meds and take advantage of technology.