Category: Asthma Facts

If you or a loved one has asthma, you’re not alone. Asthma does not recognise social class; it prevails in both city and country areas; it is present in areas of clean and polluted air; it is a condition of the old and young; male and female. There are over 15 million Americans with asthma and in New Zealand 20% of the population suffer from this condition.
When a condition is as unpredictable as asthma, it can be hard to understand and to control. The best weapon to fight asthma is knowledge. You will discover through our web site that your lifestyle doesn’t have to be stifled by asthma. Asthma can be managed.

What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways of the lungs. When you have asthma, the tubes that carry air down to your lungs are hyper-reactive (extra sensitive). They become easily swollen and inflamed.

The breathing tubes restrict the airflow & give you asthma because:

The smooth muscle in the walls of the airways spasm and constrict

The inner lining of the breathing tubes swell

Excessive mucus is secreted into the breathing tubes
When this happens, breathing, our most basic instinct, becomes a struggle.

Who Gets Asthma?
In some cases, there is a family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever. In other cases there is not.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, unfortunately the chances are that you will have it for life. One study found 85% of females and 78% of males diagnosed with asthma between the ages of 8 and 12, continued to have symptoms 15 years later.

Why is Asthma on the Rise?
Asthma experts have a wealth of evidence, which shows that asthma is a growing worldwide problem. Yet, they do not have a clear explanation why it has leapt to epidemic proportions over the last 20 years.

Many suggestions have been put forward – stress, diet, dust mites, better living standards, increased pollution, better diagnosis, the list goes on and on.

One of the most alarming suggestion is that overuse of some asthma drugs (the bronchodilators) may be a factor. However, it could be that the overuse of these drugs simply identifies severe asthmatics who have a greater risk of dying.

What Are the First Signs of Asthma?
When you experience an episode of asthma, it is known as an attack. Many people have asthma without even knowing it. Common signs of asthma are:



chest tightness

persistent coughing

Do you have a persistent dry, hacking cough that is usually worse at night, during exercise, or in the cold? This may be your only symptom.

How Quickly Can Asthma Symptoms Occur?
This depends on your sensitivity to the specific trigger and how hyper-reactive your airways are at a given time. It can occur instantaneously and will nearly always occur within 30 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger. Some parts of the immune system, however, only cause symptoms about five hours after initial exposure. This is called “late-phase” asthma.

What Triggers Asthma?
Asthma becomes worse when you are exposed to triggers. A trigger is anything, which makes your breathing difficult, or your asthma worse.

People with asthma react to different triggers but common ones include:

House Dust and Dust Mite particles



Fumes/cigarette smoke

Some foods

Changes in air temperature


Colds & Flus

It can be very difficult to identify the actual factor causing an asthma attack and it is rare to find an asthmatic that only reacts to one trigger. Whether you can avoid exposure to triggers depends a lot on what your triggers are. For example, it is impossible to avoid dust mite particles but it is easy to avoid eating peanuts. The Asthma Trigger section has more information.

Does Exercise Bring on Your Asthma?
For many asthmatics the answer is “yes”, especially when you exercise in cold weather. This sort of asthma is called Exercise Induced asthma or EIA for short.

Do you wheeze, cough, have shortness of breath or have chest tightness when exercising? This may mean that you have asthma. Remember that even if you are physically fit, you can still have EIA.

Some asthmatics only experience EIA and never have asthma at any other time.

How well is your Asthma Controlled?
When your asthma is well controlled then you will:

not use a reliever drug more than three times a week

be free of nocturnal coughs and wheezing

remain comfortable when doing normal daily activities

be able to exercise without symptoms
If you do not fit into this category then see your health professional for a review of your medication and take a look at the Buteyko Asthma Management section.

Danger Signs of Uncontrolled Asthma

Should you:

get very bad asthma very quickly

have symptoms which remain or even get worse after taking your reliever medication

have difficulty in speaking

have very severe symptoms

go blue around the lips and finger tips

get frightened about your condition
then phone your emergency services AT ONCE

Am I Over-Using My Relievers?
If you are using a reliever and find that you need to use it more than three to four times a week, then this could be a sign that your asthma is not being controlled.

Where Can I Get Further Advice?
Obviously, a good start would be with your doctor or asthma educator. The Buteyko Asthma Management section gives you drug-free solutions for your lifestyle.