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Asthma

What is Asthma?

It is a condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrows, swells and produces extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe. It can be minor, or it can interfere with daily activities. In some cases, it may lead to a life-threatening attack.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

  • Breathlessness

  • Chest tightness

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound in the chesst)

  • Dry cough – increases with exercise and worsens at night or early in the morning

  • Stringy or thick sputum

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

It becomes life threatening when you have the following:

  • Difficulty to catch a breath

  • Difficulty talking and concentrating

  • Difficulty talking and walking

  • Cyanosis of skin especially around the mouth and finger areas

  • Nasal flaring and constant wheeze

At what point do I see a Physiotherapist if I have asthma?

The clinical features that comes with asthma are:

  • Hyperventilation/Increased Respiratory Rate

  • Increased Work of Breathing

  • Decreased Peak Expiratory Flow Rate

    • FEV1
    • FEV1/FVC
  • Decreased PaO2 (partial pressure of oxygen in blood)

  • Increased PaCO(partial pressure of carbon dioxide in blood)

  • Increased Heart Rate

Physiotherapists treat asthma in a variety of ways with the aim to improve breathing technique. Physiotherapy techniques for asthma are in addition to medication and are never used as a replacement to prescribed medication, however, they help reduce the dosage of medication required.

Majority of patients suffering from asthma will seek physiotherapy when they have these clinical features – dyspnoea and hyperventilation.

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