Last updated on 03/04/2020

The peak body for asthma, Asthma Australia, is reminding people whose asthma gets worse during winter, that they should be taking their preventer medications daily from now to be fully protected during the winter months.

“As we face Coronavirus, it is more important than ever to be asthma well for this winter,” said CEO of Asthma Australia, Michele Goldman.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition affecting one in nine Australians or 2.7 million people and winter months can make asthma harder to control, resulting in more hospitalisations.

Research shows that people who use their prescribed asthma preventer and have a written Asthma Action Plan are less likely to need hospital care, which could help in reducing strain on the health system.

Ms Goldman said getting asthma under control is one of the most important ways to protect against a serious asthma flare up, particularly one triggered by Coronavirus (COVID-19) or the flu.

“This is a reminder that people need to be vigilant in taking asthma preventers daily from now to get the full benefit from their medication in time for winter. It really couldn’t be more important, put it on top of your list,” she said.

Ms Goldman explained that preventers took time to be fully effective, some up to six weeks and needed daily use to reduce sensitivity inside the airways.

“The best thing to do for asthma is to be taking prescribed preventer medication, every day, even when well, no matter what,” she said.

Asthma preventers are usually an inhaled medication which works to reduce a person’s vulnerability to the range of triggers which cause their airways to swell up, making it more difficult breathe.

Common winter asthma triggers include the change of weather, cold air, colds, flu and viruses, smoke from hazard reduction burns and wood fire heaters, poor indoor air quality caused by gas stoves or unflued gas heating, and common allergens like dust mites and mould.

“Be aware of asthma triggers in your home environment and local surroundings. With more people at home, it is important to check that your home is a healthy environment,” Ms Goldman said.

Asthma Australia is reminding people with asthma will be less likely to experience complications from their asthma during this challenging winter season if they:

  • take their asthma preventer each day, as prescribed;
  • follow their written Asthma Action Plan;
  • get the flu shot;
  • follow advice by the Health Department on social distancing and good personal hygiene

People with asthma are encouraged to use the telehealth services available and make an appointment with their GP if they needed an asthma review, (covered by Medicare) to get or update their written Asthma Action Plan, and ensure they have scripts for 30 days’ supply of both reliver and preventer medication if they hadn’t already.

Ms Goldman said people with severe asthma and multiple comorbidities who would be more impacted by Coronavirus should take additional care, as advised by the Health Department.

“As we know from health authorities, this includes over 60’s with a chronic health condition which includes asthma; and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged over 50,” she said.

Asthma Australia has been receiving ongoing reports that some asthma preventer medications and reliver puffers are still temporarily out of stock due to high and unpredictable demand.

“We’re advised by suppliers that stock is moving through the supply chain, but it is taking some time.  If people are living in regional areas, stock may take more time to get to you. We will keep people updated with any new information as it comes to hand,” Ms Goldman said.

For the latest asthma information, people can phone 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) to speak with an Asthma Educator, funded by the health department, or keep checking the Asthma Australia social media updates.