source :” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/
The National Asthma Council Australia is urging the two million Australians with asthma to remain extremely vigilant and seek an immediate lung function check from their GP following new data from the US which confirms people with an underlying medical condition are at highest risk of complications from swine flu – with more than 40 percent of people in New York hospitalised from swine flu having asthma1.
“Whether you are sick or not – if you have asthma and have not seen your GP in the last six months it is important you make an immediate appointment with your doctor to check the functioning and health of your lungs. Check with your GP that you are prescribed the right treatment, that you can use your inhaler correctly and that your current lung function is good. If this is all in order and you have a written asthma action plan that will guide you through any deterioration, you should be confident that you are prepared for a potentially difficult winter flu season,” said Associate Professor Matthew Peters, Respiratory Physician, Head of Respiratory Medicine at Concord Hospital, Sydney.
Winter is traditionally a challenging time for people with asthma as colds and flu can exacerbate their condition resulting in worsening of symptoms and potential hospital admissions. They can be particularly susceptible to influenza as viral infections can lead to increased asthma symptoms. Older people and those with severe asthma who get the flu may be at risk of more serious complications like pneumonia. Dr Noela Whitby AM, Chairman of the National Asthma Council Australia, is concerned Australians with asthma aren’t as prepared as they should be for the significant winter challenges we are facing.
“Studies continue to show a decline in asthma-related visits to GPs2 and for a variety of reasons people with asthma tend to under utilise their prescribed medications,” explained Dr Whitby. The National Asthma Council Australia is therefore encouraging people with asthma to visit their GP promptly for a lung function test and to ensure they are using their asthma medications effectively. It’s also essential that people with asthma have an up to date written asthma action plan and that they follow it.
“We appreciate in these tough economic times that some people will be trying to contain their healthcare costs. But in the midst of this particularly difficult flu season, it’s really important that people with asthma consult their doctor now to ensure their lung health is being effectively managed during winter.
“Ask your GP for a lung function test called spirometry. This measures how well your lungs are working and how asthma is affecting your breathing,” she advised. Chris, 32, from Sydney has been living with asthma for over 20 years.
“I usually get some asthma symptoms in winter, but last year I had a real scare after coming down with pneumonia at the end of winter. I got really sick and one of the worst parts about it was the wheezing, feeling constantly tired and the sensation that someone was sitting on my chest. I was off work for two weeks and it took me about three weeks to fully recover.
“I know people with asthma, like me, probably think they’re absolutely fine and can get by in the winter months, but after last year’s experience I’ve made sure I think more about protecting myself and I’ll be seeing my GP as soon as possible this winter.”
More information, including an Asthma Flu Checklist and proforma written asthma action plans, is available on the National Asthma Council Australia’s website http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/
1. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2009/pr039-09.shtml accessed on 5 June 2009.
2. Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring 2008. Asthma in Australia 2008. AIHW Asthma Series no. 3. Cat. No. ACM 14. Canberra: AIHW
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