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Fiji Time: 11:30 AM on Wednesday 17 September

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Asthma control

Dawn Gibson
Monday, February 10, 2014

ASTHMA, according to Health Ministry media officer Evlyn Mani, is the swelling of the lungs and airway passages, making breathing very difficult.

And the nature of the illness means that as soon as a person is exposed to something which triggers the swelling, it immediately causes difficulty with breathing.

This is very much like an allergic reaction and the rate at which it all occurs can be frightful, so if you're one of these people, here are a few tips which will hopefully make you feel a little less helpless in the face of an asthma attack.

"The asthmatic generally knows when they need the nebuliser or pump, so whenever they are short of breath, use the inhaler or come to the hospital straight away," Ms Mani explained.

She suggests asthmatics stay away from potential allegiants such as dust, smoke (all kinds, not just from cigarettes), pollen and cold air — keep warm during cold times.

"Many are not aware of the required and correct treatment and we have noticed people seeking medical attention only at severe times."

According to Benjamin Morris, who has had asthma since he was a young boy, dusty places pose the biggest threat to his lungs, almost immediately triggering an attack.

"Clean your room and homes frequently to avoid dust build-up — this makes a huge difference," he said.

"Also, try swimming. Once I began swimming, I found my lungs felt more resistant and I didn't take the inhaler as often as I used to.

"Obviously your general health is a major issue too. Being a healthy person (eating better, exercising more often and keeping away from junk) all reduce your chances of having breathing issues, I find."

Mr Morris, 21, said as a child, asthma was a scary ordeal for him, often resulting in him at a hospital or up all night coughing, but small steps to bettering the way in which you live could make a big difference.

"I always carry my inhaler around with me because out of the blue, I could get an attack and if you take the inhaler once you feel your lungs tightening, you'll be fine.

"If people in your family smoke, don't sit near or around them when they're having a cigarette. Try and distance yourself until they've finished their cigarette and certainly try not to smoke yourself."

World Asthma Day will be celebrated on May 7.