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Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.

Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.
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Living with asthma

2-minute read

With the right treatment and management, asthma shouldn’t restrict your daily life.

Asthma symptoms are often worse at night. This means you might wake up some nights coughing or with a tight chest. Effectively controlling your asthma will reduce your symptoms, so you should sleep better.

If you have asthma symptoms during or after exercise, speak to your doctor. They will probably review your general symptoms and personal asthma plan to make sure your asthma is under control. In general, proper warm-ups and short-burst activities are recommended, as are exercising in warm, humid conditions and breathing through the nose. The fitter you are, the better. Make sure you always have your reliever handy and have a plan in case of a flare up.

Most people with asthma can eat a normal, healthy diet. Recent research has shown that a diet high in antioxidants can improve lung health. An antioxidant rich diet includes five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Rarely, people with asthma may have food-based allergic triggers and will need to avoid foods such as cow's milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, yeast products, nuts and some food colourings and preservatives. Only restrict your diet after discussing this with your doctor.

The aim of asthma management is to achieve a symptom-free, normal life for the person with asthma and prevent the development of permanent lung damage and abnormal lung function. To do that, doctors and people with asthma must work in partnership. Good asthma management depends as much upon the person as it does on the treating doctor and other health professionals.

Asthma management education by doctors and others in asthma care means that people with asthma understand their condition and treatment, and can successfully manage it themselves between doctor visits.

 Follow a written asthma action plan for:

  • better controlled asthma
  • fewer asthma attacks
  • fewer days off work or school
  • reduced reliever medicine use
  • fewer hospital visits

To do this, an individual written asthma action plan is essential. This details:

  • what to do if symptoms return or increase
  • when and how much to increase medicine
  • when to seek medical help

You will find more information on asthma plans and managing your asthma at

Last reviewed: June 2018

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