One in nine Australians suffer with asthma. That is around 2.7 million Australians. This means that it is likely that you have an asthmatic in your workplace. Asthma is a condition that effects a persons lungs and breathing. The condition causes spasms in the bronchi of the lungs that results in dificulty breathing. It is caused by sensitivities to certain environments, actions or allergies.
Over 400 people die each year from asthma attacks. Further, asthma results in loss of productivity, wages and disability. The treatment and management options today mean that there should be little risk of death.
In many situations, someone may be exposed to things that make their symptoms worse at work. For example, a hair dresser reacting to certain sprays or products. If a persons asthma symptoms are worse at work, it is likely occupational asthma. It is up to the employee and employer to work together to minimise the exposure to triggers in this situation.
It is also important that people with asthma have an “asthma action plan”. These plans help you recognise when your asthma is getting worse, and gives you information about what to do in response. They also tell you your medications, what to do in an emergency and your doctors information. The benefits of a asthma action plan include having less asthma attacks, days of work, medication and doctor visits. It generally means that your asthma will be better controlled. Unfortunately, only one in five people with asthma have an action plan for what to do when they need emergency help. It is a good idea to talk to staff members who suffer from asthma and recommend them speaking to their doctor about creating an asthma action plan.
For more information about asthma action plans, visit the National Asthma Council website, or click here. They are a not-for-profit charity working with a national network of leading health professionals dedicated to asthma and related conditions.
With today’s treatment options that are easily accessed, we hope that the number of deaths from asthma will be reduced. We hope creating an open dialog with employers will help make this easier to achieve.