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Asthma Treatment

First Aid Courses in Canberra. After reading this information make sure you book in to a first aid course with us at Canberra First Aid and learn the practical skills for first aid treatment. 

Breathing is something most of us take for granted. However, not everyone is as fortunate.

Take five-year-old Jesse for example that narrates, “When I have my asthma attack, I feel like a fish with no wa­ter.” Ask any general practitioner and they will agree that asthma is one of the most com­mon presentations in general practice.

In my experience, nu­merous patients refuse to accept the diagnosis and in many instances will say – “I only get wheezy when I have a cold” or state that “I’ve grown out of my asth­ma and am symptom free “, when in reality they are coughing fre­quently or getting short of breath and wheezy.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma world­wide.

To put this figure in perspective, it is the total combined pop­ulation of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Singapore and Malaysia!

Asthma is the most common chronic disease among chil­dren. Asthma is not just a public health problem for high-in­come countries: it occurs in all countries regardless of level of development. Sadly, over 80 per cent of asthma deaths oc­cur in low and lower-middle income countries including Fiji.

In 2014, Fiji ranked number eight out of 172 countries in the world with regards to mortality rate from asthma with 21.85 per 100,000 population.

There were about 128 deaths from asthma in Fiji in 2014. (WHO, 2014)

It is known that asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated throughout the world creating a substantial bur­den to individuals and families and possibly restricting individuals’ activities for a lifetime.

Acute asthma attack

An acute asthma attack can be classified as mild/moder­ate, severe or life threatening. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms early and to start first aid before it is too severe.


  • Minor difficulty breathing
  • Able to talk in full sentences
  • Able to walk/move around
  • May have a wheeze or a cough

Start First aid if the above happens


  • Obvious difficulty in breathing
  • Unable to speak a full sentence in one breath
  • Tugging in of the skin between ribs or the base of the neck
  • May have wheeze or cough
  • Reliever medication not lasting as long as usual

If the above happens call the ambulance on 911 and com­mence asthma first aid

Life threatening

  • Gasping for breath
  • Unable to speak 1 -2 words per breath
  • Confused or exhausted
  • Turning blue
  • Collapsing
  • May no longer have wheeze or cough
  • May not respond to reliever medication


If the above happens, call 911 and commence asthma first aid

Asthma First Aid (Adapted from Asthma Australia website)

  1. Sit the person upright
  • Be calm and reassuring
  • Do not leave the person alone


  1. Give 4 puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer- ventolin or salbutamol
  • Shake puffer
  • Put 1 puff through spacer
  • Take 4 breaths from the spacer
  • Repeat until 4 puffs have been taken


So don’t forget – 1 puff 4 breaths

  1. Wait for 4 minutes
  • If there is no improvement then give 4 more puffs of reliever medication


  1. If there is still no improvement call the ambulance and continue give 4 puffs every 4 minutes

Managing Asthma

Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate manage­ment can control the disease and enable people to enjoy good quality of life.

A common myth is that most children will outgrow asthma. Some children do outgrow their asthma, however many do not, especially those with severe symptoms.

Short-term medications are used to relieve symptoms. These are called reliever medications.

The above inhalers ventolin and asmol contain salbutamol and are called reliever medications. They provide quick re­lief from asthma symptoms. Reliever medications start to work within minutes and the effects last for up to 4 hours. They relax the muscle around the outside of the airway and help open it up.

All people with asthma must have a reliever medication so that they can use it whenever they have symptoms.

However, if you find that you need to use the reliever medi­cation more than twice a week (other than prior to exercise) then you need to consult with your doctor as your asthma may not be well controlled and there may be a need for pre­venter medication.

Possible side effects include increased heart rate and trem­or of the hands, which are short-lived and occur when in­creased doses are required during an acute asthma attack.

People with persistent symptoms must take preventer medi­cation daily to control the underlying inflammation, reduce swelling and prevent symptoms and exacerbations.

The above inhalers becotide and flixotide are inhaled ster­oid medications. Possible side effects include a sore throat, hoarse voice, or oral thrush.

These side effects may be reduced by using a spacer and rinsing your mouth after using the inhaler. There are other combination inhalers that are also used.

Other Acute Medications

These medications are used for treating a sudden or severe asthma flare-up.

It is a corticosteroid liquid or tablet that is taking for a short time 3-7 days to reduce inflammation. With short courses on­going side effects are unlikely. Longer term or frequent use can lead to side effects such as thinning of skin and growth issues in children.

A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece at one end and a hole for the asthma inhaler at the other. The medica­tion is fired from the puffer into the spacer and is then in­haled. By using a spacer it is easier to take the medication and it also ensures that more of the medication is delivered into the lungs. It is recommended that all children use spac­ers with their reliever and preventer medication.

Adults are recommended to use their spacer with their pre­venter medication and with or without the spacer for their reliever medication.

Many studies have shown that using a spacer with your re­liever medication in an asthma flare-up is as effective as or even better than using a nebulizer and its faster and easier and there may be fewer side effects.

We can see that asthma is a chronic disease that cannot be cured but can be managed with commitment from the patient and family and regular visits with your doctor.

Wise words by 17-year- old patient named Sydney, “one step at a time, inhaler in hand I will fulfill my dreams and live life to the fullest”.

Till we meet next week, keep calm and breathe!

Check out our first aid courses at www.canberrafirstaid.com



First Aid Course Canberra. Here are the details on how to treat anaphylaxis. Even if you don’t get to one of our first aid courses you will have the information to help.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic response that often involves swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock and death. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including a prompt injection of epinephrine and a trip to a hospital emergency room. If anaphylactic shock isn’t treated immediately, it can be fatal.

Isn’t this a FD/Paramedic issue?

Ideally, yes. However, if you are on patrol you may be the closest to respond to the 911 call. Anaphylaxis is a severe and sudden allergic reaction. It occurs within minutes of exposure to an allergen. If not treated appropriately, anaphylaxis can turn deadly very quickly. Anaphylactic shock can also occur while a suspect is in your custody both in or outside of a detention facility.

Additionally, failure to recognize anaphylaxis and to seek prompt, appropriate treatment tends to upset everyone who has more stripes or stars than you do, elected officials, and family members as well.  This is truly an ounce of prevention and quick action scenario.

What are the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction?

The major difference between anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions is that anaphylaxis typically involves more than one system of the body.

  • Red rash (usually itchy and may have welts/hives)
  • Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest tightness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Pale or red color to the face and body

It is important to remember that, like other allergic reactions, an anaphylactic reaction does not usually occur after the first exposure to an allergen but after a subsequent exposure. You may have an allergic reaction to a bee sting, but the next sting could lead to anaphylaxis.


Anaphylaxis in aged care – First Aid Course Canberra

An aged care executive is calling on the sector to remove latex from workplaces and be more allergen aware, particularly in kitchens, as part of efforts to raise awareness about dangerous allergic reactions.Ananda Aged Care clinical director Dr Pooja Newman founded Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) last month, four days after she experienced a near-fatal allergic reaction.

Dr Newman was attending a concert in Adelaide when balloons covered in latex powder were unexpectedly released.

Her campaign, which has already gained thousands of supporters globally, aims to help reduce the stigma of anaphylaxis – a severe and potentially life threatening allergic reaction – and increase safety for those at risk.

Globalaai is calling for:

  • widespread availability of emergency adrenaline – EpiPens – in public venues and food outlets
  • mandatory training for the hospitality industry
  • social awareness and
  • latex-free services in healthcare, retail and public venues.

Pooja Newman

Dr Newman, a medical doctor and the deputy chair of South Australia’s Aged Care Industry Association, wants to create change in aged care and is aiming to introduce a practical template for allergy safety in facilities.

“Ask the questions around anaphylaxis and identify at-risk individuals, support them and be inclusive,” Dr Newman told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“I am lobbying to remove latex in aged care and be allergen aware particularly in kitchens.”

Allergic diseases are among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia, affecting one in five Australians while deaths from anaphylaxis have increased by 7 per cent per year for the last seven years, according to the National Allergy Strategy.

Dr Newman, who has survived 30 anaphylactic episodes, is severely allergic to peanuts, all tree nuts and latex including latex associated fruits such as bananas.

“This has been the most severe anaphylaxis I have had and it has taken me longer than usual to recover from feeling weak, a little breathless and flat,” she said.

The release of the balloons covered in latex-powder – done without pre-concert caution that only mentioned strobe lights, pyrotechnics and confetti – was followed by the injection of three EpiPens and four days in intensive care.

Dr Newman is seeking global awareness so people with allergies can be better informed about the risks they may face.

Risks in aged care

Latex, for example, was the cause of occupational latex allergy, which had mild symptoms including a rash, asthma and very rarely anaphylaxis, Dr Newman said.

“We know that latex allergy occurs from exposure to latex and if it is minimised in aged care then latex anaphylaxis could potentially become a problem of the past.”

She said Ananda has been latex free since its inception and that latex-free products including gloves made of vinyl or nitrile were freely available and cost neutral.

Poor awareness and education among aged care staff, cognitive decline among clients and the stigma attached to anaphylaxis were among other key issues for the aged care and retirement living sectors, said Dr Newman.

She is currently discussing her campaign with aged care peak bodies.

Kitchens, particularly in aged care, are not suitably trained for anaphylaxis food safety and cross contamination is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed, Dr Newman argued.

“Older Australians with cognitive decline may not be in a position to advocate for the safety of themselves in terms of identifying their allergies appropriately.

“I see staff in workplaces currently not necessarily declaring life threatening allergies and potentially having their EpiPen in their bag in their locker and having the potential for a life threatening reaction in their workplace,” she said.

Dr Newman said workplaces did not have general use EpiPens, which saved lives as seconds counted from the commencement of an anaphylactic reaction to reversing the process and preventing morbidity and mortality associated with anaphylaxis.

“Aged care facilities in particular often have contractors and visitors including friends and family of residents and these people potentially are at risk from anaphylaxis if staff are not adequately trained to recognise and treat anaphylaxis.”

See the campaign’s website and social media for more information or contact Dr Newman at [email protected].

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