Could it be asthma?
If you have:
• A tight feeling in the chest, and/or
• Continuing cough, then you may have asthma.
You may have all of these symptoms or only a few, and they may come and go.
When does it start?
Asthma can start at any age, and can be more of a problem when it starts in older adults, so don’t assume if you never had it as a child that it’s not possible now.
Maybe I’m just getting older…
No! Being breathless is not a normal part of getting older – it should always be checked out by a doctor.
A diagnosis of asthma is more likely if you have eczema or hayfever, or have close relatives with allergies and/or asthma, and if your symptoms:
• keep coming back, or happen at the same time each year
• are worse at night or in the early morning
• are clearly triggered by exercise, allergies or infections
• improve quickly with reliever medication
What should I do if I think I have asthma?
If you suspect you might have asthma, you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis. Don’t ignore it – if you do have asthma, the sooner you get it under control, the faster you can get back to living a full and active life!
Things to tell your doctor
1) How can I tell when my asthma is under good control?
2) How can I tell when I am getting a flare-up of asthma symptoms?
3) What medications do I need to take every day for my asthma?
4) Can I work out which triggers make my asthma worse and can I do anything about them?
5) If exercise sets off my asthma, what can I do to control that, so I can keep active?
6) What do I do if my asthma gradually gets worse over a few weeks?
7) What do I do if I have a sudden or severe asthma flare-up (an asthma attack)?
8) Can you please check that I am using my asthma devices correctly?
9) Can I have a written asthma action plan? (or can you check that my written asthma action plan is up to date?)
10) When should I see you again for an asthma review?
Before you leave your doctor, make sure:
— your medications have been reviewed, you know which ones to take and when and you have enough prescriptions until your next visit
— you can use your asthma medication devices correctly
— you have an up-to-date written asthma action plan
— you have booked another appointment for review
— If you have had any night-time asthma symptoms, such as cough, wheeze or breathlessness, since your last check-up
— How many days a week you have had day-time asthma symptoms in the last month
— If your asthma has made it hard to keep up with normal activity
— If you have had any asthma flare-ups or attacks since your last visit
— Anything that seems to trigger/make your asthma worse
— What you do about your triggers and whether this helps
— How much exercise you do and any asthma symptoms during or after exercise
Medication & devices
— How often you have taken your reliever medication in the last month
— How often you take your preventer medication
— Show your doctor how you use your inhaler
— If you are using any other medications or complementary therapies
— Any other changes in your health, e.g. quitting smoking, increasing exercise, weight changes, allergies, other health issues.
— For women, if you are planning a pregnancy or may be pregnant.
If you have a written asthma action plan, bring it to your appointment, so that your doctor can check it is correct and up to date.