Written by Keryn Kok

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which your airways become narrowed due to inflammation and extra mucus production. According to a research from Asthma Malaysia organization, asthma may be started in childhood as young as 6 years old, however attack regardless of age. Symptoms of asthma can be varied from individual to individual. Shortness of breath, tightness in chest, wheezing and coughing usually occurs when asthma attacks. Nevertheless, not every asthmatic patient experience same symptom at the same time. Mild attack can subside spontaneously or with reliever medication.up.

What triggers asthma to attack?

Exposure to allergens for example dust mites, pollen or animal dander is one of the asthma triggers. Other than that, irritants in air like smoke or chemical fumes, a cold, vigorous exercise, extreme weather condition or strong emotion can make asthma flare up as well. Hence, it is important to identify your trigger and always take measures to reduce the exposure to the trigger.

How to manage your asthma?

Asthma is one of the non-curable diseases, but it is highly treatable by keeping the asthma under good control. There are many measures that can be taken to prevent the asthma exacerbation.

Avoidance of your triggers is the most essential measures in preventing asthma attacks. For instance, if you are allergy to pet dander (skin, saliva or urine), avoid adopting a pet or try to reduce the exposure to their dander. Another example is exercise-induced asthma. Warm up before doing any strenuous exercise or use reliever inhaler prior to warming up helps to reduce the chances of getting an asthma episode. If experience any significant symptom, exercise should be halted immediately and take another puff of reliever medication while resting.

Besides that, taking asthma medication not only helps in relieving symptoms, it also helps in decreasing the risk of being attacked by asthma. Generally, there are two types of asthma medications in the form of inhaler being prescribed by doctor – ‘reliever’ and ‘preventer’.

Relievers are prescribed to provide immediate relief of symptoms of asthma by open up the airway. Asthma relievers are represented by a group of drugs called Beta2-agonists. They are fast acting however its effect only last for 0.5 to 2 hours. Therefore, patient who required daily asthma control, long acting preventers are being prescribed. Preventer (inhaled corticosteroids) are given on daily basis to control the airway inflammation. Compliance to preventer is very crucial in reducing asthma exacerbations and achieves long term asthma control. Combination of both reliever and preventer sometimes may be given to get better control.

Correct inhaler technique is also important to ensure the drug go directly to your lungs to provide faster onset of action and lesser side effects. Please come and consult our pharmacist if you are unsure of the correct way of using your inhaler.


  1. 2019. Asthma Malaysia. [Online]. [17 September 2019]. Available from: http://www.asthmamalaysia.org/
  2. 2018. Asthma. 13 Sept. Mayo Clinic. [Online]. [17 September 2019]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653
  3. 2015. ACAAI Public Website. [Online]. [17 September 2019]. Available from: https://acaai.org/asthma/symptoms/asthma-attack
  4. Webmdcom, M.K. 2019. Frequently Asked Questions About Asthma. 14 March. Webmdcom. [Online]. [17 September 2019]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/asthma-faq
  5. Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Global strategy for asthma management and prevention: Updated 2018 & Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Pocket guide for asthma management and prevention for adults and children older than 5 years. A pocket guide for healthcare professionals: Updated 2019.