Asthma is a persistent ailment that necessitates lifelong management for those who have been diagnosed with it. The management of asthma is a complex matter that cannot be reduced to a general solution. Asthma can present itself as a trifling frustration for some people, while for others, it can manifest as a grave and potentially fatal condition.
For many people suffering from asthma, winter can be a particularly bad time. The cold weather conditions, flu and colds can present additional challenges to those living with asthma.
Siphele Ngqaneka from Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape endures the daily affliction of living with asthma. He finds it arduous to cope with his asthma, as it impedes his ability to engage in physical activities such as exercising or attending the gym, due to the respiratory distress it causes.
Ngqaneka is currently utilising inhalers to manage the condition. He says he is gradually learning what to do and what to avoid when living a healthy life with asthma as nobody has ever given him advice on how to do so.
“I can feel it in my chest when it’s going to become chilly, and the wheezing would get worse. However, I am surviving by always staying warm, and having my inhalers with me all the time.”
Adapting to a new way of life
Bronwyn Dlamini from Utrecht, KwaZulu-Natal was diagnosed with asthma on 7 May 2022.
She explains that asthma is a genetic health illness within her familial lineage, as evidenced by her aunt’s ongoing struggle with the condition. Dlamini is currently taking a nebuliser service pack which she collects from the doctor once every month.
Dlamini advises people to prioritise their hygiene to prevent an attack. “I launder my linen weekly with boiling water. I attempt to keep any dust and other particles away from me by not keeping any pets close by,” she says.
Fanele Mhlungu also from Utrecht, was born with exercise-induced asthma.
“I have two types of inhalers, one is Venteze and the other is Ventimax, and I visit the doctor every two months.”
When she runs out of inhalers, she ensures that she has a brown paper or plastic bag available. She contends that when you feel short of breath while inhaling through a brown bag, the air you inhale is similar to that of an asthma inhaler.
“As much as I like wearing short skirts, when it’s cold, asthma says no, and I simply comply with it because I know the implications.”
She adds that she avoids smoking areas because they trigger her asthma.
She found that boiling marijuana had been effective and asserted that weed tea is miraculous. Her chest becomes lighter and more translucent especially if she had respiratory difficulties, she adds.
Observe the following symptoms
According to Dr Mxolisi Xulu of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, asthma is divided into two groups, including allergic and non-allergic.
Allergic asthma is a respiratory condition characterised by constriction of the airways upon inhalation of an allergen. Pollen, animal dander, and mould spores are among the most common allergens. This form of asthma is common among both infants and adults.
Non-allergic asthma is not triggered by allergens. Among these are viral respiratory infections, exercise, and irritants in the air.
“People with allergic kind may also experience the following symptoms: usually colourless or pale-coloured nasal discharge, reddish teary eyes, and itchiness around the mouth, nostrils, and eyes.”
Beware of asthma triggers
Asthmatics, according to Xulu, must know what initiates their condition, as certain triggers can be fatal. Triggers include viral infections (colds), cigarette smoke, air pollution, grass and tree pollen, scented soaps and fragrances, garden blooms, and factories with high air pollution levels.
“During an attack, a person’s airways constrict, limiting their oxygen delivery. Oxygen therapy for severe attacks provides supplemental oxygen,” he explains.
Xulu suggests that people with severe asthma can have oxygen in their residences, but only under the supervision of a healthcare worker and in moderation.
“Oxygen at home must be used with caution, as excessive levels of carbon dioxide can result from too much oxygen.”
Chronic with no cure
According to Xulu, asthma is quite chronic. It cannot be cured. However, there are numerous treatment and control options. He adds that living with it is not a uniform experience, people can show various symptoms and use different treatments; some find it extremely difficult to live with it, while others only experience it seasonally.
Xulu suggests sufferers should consider donning multiple layers of clothing in the event of chilly weather. It is advisable for them to consume warm, predominantly liquid-based sustenance as opposed to chilled beverages.
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