Information about what asthma is and how you can control it.

Page last updated: 07 April 2010

What is asthma?
Taking control of your asthma
What is a written asthma action plan?

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory condition of the airways. Symptoms can be triggered by colds and flu, exercise, air pollutants, tobacco smoke or allergens. Symptoms of asthma include:
  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath
If you experience these symptoms more than two times a week or need to use your asthma reliever puffer more than three times a week it might mean that your asthma is poorly controlled.

Although people with asthma are no more likely to catch the flu than anyone else, colds and flu can add to breathing difficulties and may trigger asthma attacks. People with asthma who have flu like symptoms should contact their doctor to discuss ways to keep their asthma under control.

Taking control of your asthma

Asthma isn't only a problem when your symptoms get worse. By working with your doctor to manage your asthma and following your personal written asthma action plan you can:
  • reduce your asthma symptoms
  • improve your health and lifestyle and
  • take control of your asthma
Most people can manage their asthma well. The more you learn about your asthma the better you can manage it by:
  • following a personal written asthma action plan developed with your doctor
  • taking your asthma medicine as advised by your doctor even when you are well
  • finding out what triggers your asthma and avoiding these triggers where possible and
  • seeing your doctor for regular check-ups to monitor and control your asthma
Even when you are well, you should see your doctor regularly so that he or she can check your asthma and how well your medicine is working. Signs that your asthma may be getting worse include:
  • worse symptoms, more often, especially waking up at night
  • needing to use your asthma reliever medicine more often or
  • your reliever medicine not working as well Top of page

What is a written asthma action plan?

Taking into account your own level of asthma and your current asthma medicine, your doctor will work with you to develop a personalised written asthma action plan. This can help you to recognise if your asthma is getting worse and to monitor your medicine according to your doctor's instructions.

Your written asthma action plan should be kept somewhere in your home where you can refer to it easily if you notice any change in your asthma symptoms.

To get a written asthma action plan ask your doctor about the Asthma cycle of care.


Written asthma action plan
Remote Indigenous Australian asthma action plan

Page last reviewed: 14 September 2010