ASTHMA WEEK 1-7 SEPTEMBER
Spring is the season where the weather warms, flowers begin to bloom and there’s an overall sense of new beginning in the air. Yet we all know that 2020 has and continues to be, a big year for people with asthma. So, as we spring into the season, take time this Asthma Week to take a breather.
This Asthma Week is about YOU – putting your health and wellbeing at the forefront, even for just a few minutes each day.
To help you in this journey, each day over Asthma Week we will share with you some ideas and activities that might help you take a break and help to get your asthma well controlled. We’ve created a Take a Breather Checklist that you can download and, keep handy!
HERE’S A FEW WAYS YOU CAN TAKE A BREATHER THIS WEEK
1) Get some sun
A rich source of Vitamin D comes from the sun, and there is growing interest and research into the potential role of Vitamin D in asthma management. Plus, being outdoors is also great for your immune system and overall health and wellbeing.
- Try to spend some time outdoors each day. So today, knock off 30 minutes early for a walk or if you are at home take time, enjoy your outdoor space and bask in the glorious sunshine. Just remember to be SunSmart when you are outside.
- While limited research suggests Vitamin D may have a protective effect against asthma flare-ups, there isn’t enough evidence as yet to suggest recommending Vitamin D supplementation as part of general asthma management.[i] Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your Vitamin D levels.
- Learn about the research we’re funding investigating Vitamin D levels during pregnancy and the impact on the respiratory outcomes of the infants.
2) Make a change
Take the opportunity to start kicking bad habits, such as smoking, to the kerb to improve your asthma and overall health. Most people know smoking is not good for them but are unaware of the negative impact it can have on their asthma.
If you have asthma and smoke it can make your asthma worse by:
- Increasing asthma symptoms (feel worse, more often)
- Increasing the risk and frequency of asthma flare-ups
- Reducing the likelihood of achieving good asthma control
- Accelerating long term decline in lung function
- Reducing the effectiveness of preventer medications, which can mean higher doses of preventer to receive the same benefits on asthma as non-smokers
You probably know that second-hand smoke is also bad for those around you – and kids who are exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher likelihood of getting symptoms earlier in life and having more symptoms and asthma attacks. And, they are more likely to use their asthma medications more often and for a longer period.
Quitting smoking isn’t always easy. However, there are many effective treatment options available which you can discuss with your doctor or pharmacist. Take time to read our guide on asthma and smoking, and take the first step toward making a positive change and living well with your asthma.
3) Have a chat
Book in a time to speak with our Asthma Educators about your asthma.
Our Asthma Educators are
- Here to answer your asthma questions and provide support for not only people with asthma but their carers
- Trained to help you with Australian best-practice asthma management and evidence-based information
Give them a call today on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) to get the support you need and get back to living freely.
Have you registered for Asthma Assist? Join more than 32,000 Australians and get support to manage your asthma.
Did you know Asthma Australia has three apps to assist people with asthma and their carers? Find out more about why we created each app, how it can help you, and where to download it.
Our friend Peter Diaz from The Mental Health Organisaton is joining us for a Facebook Live with helpful tips on how to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing, especially within the current climate.
- As is the case with other chronic illnesses, research shows that people with asthma are more likely to also have depression[iv]
- People with anxiety are more likely to have asthma, and people with asthma are more likely to be anxious[v]
- Anxiety and depression make it harder for people to manage their asthma
- In a recent Asthma Australia Survey of 1,805 people during the Coronavirus Pandemic, nearly half (45%) said they had experienced new or increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, and one-quarter of people (25%) said feelings of anxiety and depression had triggered their asthma.[vi]
Symptoms of anxiety or depression may arise at any time of the year, but we know that 2020 has and continues to be a big year for people with asthma. So, if you notice you are feeling down, anxious, or aren’t enjoying normal activities as much as usual, have a chat with your health professional or service provider.
There is a range of ways to engage and work on your mental wellbeing. To find a mental health practitioner in your area, contact:
Stress and extreme emotions can trigger asthma symptoms and flare-ups so it’s important to seek help and support. Download our guide on mental health and asthma, to better understand how it could be a trigger for your asthma and take a step towards improving your mental wellbeing.
5) Have a laugh
There’s nothing like a good laugh to make you feel better, and it’s great for your overall health!
Although laughter can be a trigger for some people with asthma, laughter should not necessarily be avoided. If you find laughter makes your asthma symptoms worse make an appointment with your doctor for an asthma review.
So, get those belly laughs going and take time to
- Catch up with friends and loved ones whether that be face to face or digitally and
- Take a break from all the news and current affairs consuming our lives and watch a good comedy, or other light-hearted, feel-good entertainment
6) Get cooking
We know that healthy eating and a diet of fresh foods and vegetables is an important part of asthma management.[vii], [viii] Healthy eating also has a great impact on your general health and wellbeing.
- Aim for five servings of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day. These foods are high in antioxidants and may reduce your risk of an asthma flare-up compared to a diet with fewer fruits and vegetables.[viii]
- Try to limit takeaway and processed foods. These foods are high in saturated fats, which promote inflammation and may increase your risk of poor asthma control. [vii]
- For more information visit the Australian guide to healthy eating.
So, get cooking and explore your culinary talents.
7) Reach out
Book in to see your doctor for an asthma review. An asthma review is a chance for you to talk with your doctor about your asthma.
With your doctor:
- Assess your current level of asthma control
- Make sure you are on the right medicines to manage your asthma (e.g. a preventer)
- Check your inhaler technique
- Ensure your written Asthma Action Plan is up to date ask any questions
- If you have asthma and hay fever, speak with your doctor and pharmacist about the right medication and treatments to manage your asthma and allergies over spring
we else is happening this Asthma Week…
Let’s get AirSmart this Asthma Week
From Asthma Week on, Asthma Australia along with a select group of consumers who were affected by smoke from the 2019-2020 bushfires – our Asthma Champions – will be meeting with the Parliamentary Friends of Asthma.
Our focus will be on the impacts of bushfire smoke exposure, and the need for policy reforms to reduce the harm caused by unhealthy air. The Parliamentary Friends of Asthma are a self-nominated group of federal MPs and Senators who help make a positive difference to people with asthma in Parliament.
Asthma Australia developed 10 recommendations based on the findings of its 2019/20 Bushfire Smoke Impact Survey.
We will be asking the Parliamentary Friends to support these recommendations, especially Recommendation One – an AirSmart campaign. AirSmart aims to help at-risk individuals – including people with asthma, other respiratory conditions, heart disease, pregnant people and kids – and our general community to minimise the impact of unhealthy air, by understanding the dangers and what steps to take.
To get involved with Asthma Australia, you can sign up to be an Asthma Champion here.
Read more about our AirSmart campaign here.
Astra Zeneca and Sanofi proudly support Asthma Australia during Asthma week with independent grants. Neither has been involved in the development of this webpage.
This page was last updated 31/8/2020
[i] National Asthma Council Australia, Healthy eating for asthma, Australian Asthma Handbook 2.0, Melbourne: NAC. Accessed online: https://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/clinical-issues/food/healthy-eating
[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018; National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18. ABS Cat no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
[iii] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008), 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.
[iv] Moussavi, et al. 2007, Depression, chronic diseases, and decrements in health: results from the World Health Surveys, The Lancet, 370, 851-858.
[v] 5. Barton, C., Clarke D., Sulaiman, N., Abramson, M., 2003, “Coping as a mediator of psychosocial impediments to optimal management and control of asthma”, Respiratory Medicine 97, 747-761.
[vi] Asthma Australia 2020, Asthma and Coronavirus Survey, accessed online: https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/triggers/coronavirus-and-covid19/covid-19-survey/
[vii] Wood, L G, Garg, M L, Gibson, P G. A high-fat challenge increases airway inflammation and impairs bronchodilator recovery in asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011; 127: 1133-1140.
[viii] Wood, L G, Garg, M L, Smart, J M, et al. Manipulating antioxidant intake in asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 96: 534-543.