Warning for asthmatics to keep plan in place

Asthma Marlborough respiratory nurse educator Karen Vis, with an inhaler and spacer, is urging people with the disease ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Asthma Marlborough respiratory nurse educator Karen Vis, with an inhaler and spacer, is urging people with the disease to keep action plans in place.

Asthma sufferers should keep up-to-date action plans in a bid to help stem emergency hospital admissions.

As part of the Breathe Better September asthma awareness campaign, respiratory nurse educator Karen Vis is urging people with the disease to stay on top of symptoms and keep a plan in place for when they get worse.

The Asthma Marlborough educator believes the move could help reduce the number of patients suffering severe attacks.

More than 520,000 people in New Zealand take medication for the chronic lung disease.

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Karen says nationwide one person dies each week from the disease and better self-management is key to keeping serious attacks at bay.

Asthma Marlborough committee, from left, Judith Cleary, Karen Vis, Stan Irving, Ruth Neal, Gillian McCoy and chairman ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Asthma Marlborough committee, from left, Judith Cleary, Karen Vis, Stan Irving, Ruth Neal, Gillian McCoy and chairman John Cuddon.

"Asthma and chromic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) plans help by giving people responsibility and guides them what to do when things are not going so well.

"They're a plan to follow when asthma and COPD deteriorates," she says.

Asthma inflames and narrows the airways.

It causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing.

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Karen, who has been working with Asthma Marlborough for 10 years, says more education over inhaler use would also benefit many sufferers.

"There are two types of inhaler, a preventer and a reliever. My role is to help reinforce ways for people to use the medication properly; sometimes preventative inhalers get left in a drawer and forgotten about.

"The preventer needs to be taken regularly long-term to prevent irritation," she says.

Statistics from the Asthma Respiratory Foundation New Zealand show there were 78,333 hospital admissions in 2015.

Respiratory disease accounts for one in 10 hospital stays nationwide.

There were 148 admissions to Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, for asthma, respiratory and COPD diagnoses from the start of the year until July and 282 presentations at the emergency department.

Karen, who has a son with asthma, says educators are available to help teach people the right technique to using their inhalers and which inhalers they should have on them.

Educators can also visit staff and parents at preschools, kindergartens and primary schools.

"We're affiliated to the Asthma Foundation and attend annual conferences to stay up-to-date with new information and training.

"It's all about making sure that you control the asthma and it doesn't control you," she says.

For further information visit asthmafoundation.org.nz or call 03 579 1609.

 - The Marlborough Express

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