Signs of an asthma attack:
• Coughing incessantly, quick reliever inhaler not helpful
• Short of breath
• Tight chest
• Severe attack:
• Lips and finger tips turning blue
• Can’t speak in sentences
What to do in an asthma attack:
• Take your reliever (usually blue) Ventolin/Airomir inhaler immediately
• Sit down and loosen tight clothing around the neck
• If no improvement, take one puff of the (blue) quick reliever inhaler every few minutes or until symptoms improve
• If symptoms do not improve, or if you are in doubt — call your doctor or go to the Emergency Department immediately
• Continue to take reliever (blue) inhaler on the way to the hospital. Combination and Preventer/Controller inhalers will not help in an asthma attack.
FRIDAY, MAY 4: Asthma is a growing problem in Bermuda just like it is in the rest of the world.
Tuesday marked World Asthma Day and this year’s theme is You Can Control Your Asthma. The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) aims to raise awareness about asthma care and management and Bermuda joined 80 countries around the world in taking part.
Local charity Open Airways set up stalls outside City Hall to educate the public and encourage asthma sufferers to set up an Asthma Action Plan, take their medicines and avoid triggers — things that irritate sensitive airways.
Open Airways’ Liz Boden told the Bermuda Sun: “We want everyone with asthma to have a Personal Asthma Action Plan so that they understand when their asthma is well controlled, when to be concerned and to learn how to adjust their medications to prevent an asthma attack. We also want people to know when to see their doctor and when they must go to The Emergency Department.”
Everyone over the age of 10 is encouraged to keep a peak flow metre — a device that can be bought from any pharmacy without a prescription to measure breath. The idea is to encourage people to record their peak flows (a simple breathing measurement) while they are well so that they find out what their personal best recording is.
“Once we know this we can set up the Asthma Action Plan,” explained Ms Boden.
The biggest culprits for triggering breathing problems in Bermuda are mould, dust-mites and pollens/grasses. Household chemicals are also a huge problem such as products claiming to kill viruses, or make their home smell better.
There are five categories for triggers of breathing problems: allergens, irritants, the weather, and emotion and hormones.
Everyone with asthma is advised to see their doctor once a year to review their asthma medications.
There is specialist asthma education available from: Open Airways — Liz Boden on 232-0264 firstname.lastname@example.org. The Hospital Asthma Education Centre — Debbie Barboza on 239-1652. The Department of Health Victoria Street Clinic for children — the school asthma nurse — Jennifer Wilson (Nurse Jen) on 332-8915 email@example.com