Plan for your holidays if you have asthma

Plan for your holidays if you have asthma
Action Plans urged for safe holidays with asthma

The National Asthma Council and Medibank Private are urging Australians with asthma to revisit their Asthma Action Plans before heading off for summer holidays.

Associate Professor Mimi Tang, spokesperson for the National Asthma Council and paediatric allergist and immunologist at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, said that written instructions on how to recognise when asthma was getting worse, and what action to take, can help people control asthma and enjoy a holiday without a stay in hospital.

"Having an Asthma Action Plan is a useful way of reducing anxiety about what to do during an asthma attack and a way of giving people with asthma, their families and carers the confidence to handle an episode," Associate Professor Tang said.

"We encourage people with asthma and their family and carers to take control of the condition. The Asthma Action Plan will help people with asthma work better with their GPs to reach the optimal result."

She encouraged people to review their Asthma Action Plan with their GP before going on holidays. And, for people without an Action Plan, the advice is to get one in place.

"Access to asthma treatment and care may be difficult in some places, especially in some regional, rural and remote areas. A visit to the GP before a holiday will ensure you have a good asthma action plan, the right medication and enough of it so you will be prepared, wherever you're travelling," Associate Professor Tang said.

The National Asthma Council Australia and Medibank Private have teamed up to produce the 'Asthma Management Holiday Checklist'.

Some of the key points in the checklist include:
  • Have your GP check your asthma before you go.
  • Take enough medication to last the whole trip.
  • Continue all your medications, especially preventer medication.
  • If camping be aware that cold air and wood fires may trigger asthma.
  • If staying with friends, be aware of your asthma triggers, like cat allergens. Also, dust mite numbers are often higher in coastal areas or humid environments.

    Along with the 'Asthma Management Holiday Checklist', Medibank Private and the National Asthma Council have produced the latest edition of "Good Asthma Management for Everyone - A guide for people with asthma". Included in the brochure is an Asthma Action Plan that can be filled out with the help of a GP.

    Medibank Private's Managing Director, George Savvides, said that the aim of the health fund's alliance with the National Asthma Council was to provide comprehensive information to help people with asthma to better manage their condition.

    "The holiday checklist is a great addition to the information already available on the Medibank Private website and will help thousands of Australians manage their asthma during the busy holiday season," Mr Savvides said.

    Both the checklist and the brochure are available from Medibank Private Retail Centres and from http://www.medibank.com.au.

    For more information about asthma, visit http://www.nationalasthma.org.au.

    Asthma Case Study

    Josh Taylor - 100 butterfly swimmer
    Australian Institute of Sport

    Josh's story...

    Josh was three when he was first diagnosed with asthma. He had been unwell, and at the time, his parents assumed he had contracted a virus.

    On further investigation, the family GP and a specialist confirmed that both Josh and his younger brother had asthma. Josh's mother and father knew little about asthma other than some small things about its treatment - nebulisers, puffers, etc.

    At first Josh's parents were hesitant to put their children on asthma medication as they thought it would hamper the kids' early years. However, Josh's parents were eventually convinced that it would be best for their children.

    A neighbour also suggested Josh and his brother try swimming.

    Josh's father, Kim Taylor, had been a swimmer with great potential as a teenager. He knew the hardships of high level competitive sport and what it was like to work hard even as a child. When Josh was born, Kim told his wife that none of his children would be swimmers: he wanted them to 'just be kids'.

    However, for Josh, swimming proved a major benefit to aid his asthma.

    Over the past 16 years, Josh has received considerable medical advice about asthma and how he can best manage it. He is on a regular dose of preventive medication. He also uses a reliever and monitors his asthma regularly.

    Josh always plans ahead, not just when he goes on holidays, but for competitions as well. He assesses particulars about the location such as its climate and the closest place to receive medical treatment. He is always sure to take his medication and a peak flow meter with him.

    Josh believes that planning and being aware of his asthma has helped to make him the person he is today. He has represented Australia at a world level and been part of some very successful teams. He is a current scholarship holder at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and has been lucky enough to receive awards through the program.

    Josh is entering his third year as a member of the Telstra Dolphins squad and this year won his first national title in the 100 metres Butterfly at the Short Course Nationals in Hobart.

    Asthma is still a large part of Josh's life and sets him back from time to time, however it doesn't control him. He has the power to control it.

    Josh says: "Don't hold back because of asthma, plan well and live healthy."



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