Ambulance Victoria (AV) paramedics are calling on people with asthma, including those in the northern suburbs, to make sure their asthma action plans are up to date this national Asthma Week.
One in nine Victorians live with asthma, a serious airway condition that in most cases is manageable with medication and a daily plan.
An asthma action plan is provided to an individual by their general practitioner, outlining how to manage day to day, including which medication to take and how to respond to flare ups and emergencies.
There is no ‘standard’ asthma action plan, as everyone’s asthma is different.
AV metropolitan regional director Michael Georgiou said people with asthma need to stay vigilant about their condition and how it is managed.
“As paramedics we see how quickly asthma can become life-threatening, which is why we’re reminding everyone to update their action plan yearly, and every six months for children,” Mr Georgiou said.
“Your asthma will change over time, so your plan needs to as well. If you haven’t updated yours in a while, make an appointment to review it with your doctor.”
Asthma affects people of all ages and can appear at any stage in life.
“We see many people who experience asthma for the first time as an adult,” Mr Georgiou said.
“Symptoms usually include wheezing, breathlessness, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness.”
Common triggers for asthma include outdoor allergens such as pollen, dust, air pollution, and, in rare cases, thunderstorms.
Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said Australia had the highest rates of asthma in the developed world.
“Asthma affects so many of us and unfortunately our homes can harbour risks we may not even be aware of, like gas cooktops, mould and allergens such as dust mites,” Ms Goldman said.
Mr Georgiou said identifying and reducing exposure to allergen triggers can make asthma easier to manage.
“Now that spring is here, if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose and itchy eyes, it’s a good opportunity to visit your doctor to find out the cause and treatment options,” he said.
Mr Georgiou said it was important all Victorians knew how to respond to an asthma attack.
“Follow your asthma action plan, and most importantly, if a person is having difficulty breathing and their reliever medicine is not working, don’t delay in calling [triple-0].”
Asthma Week runs from September 1 to 7.