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Asthma: It’s more serious than you think

Asthma is one of the most world’s most common chronic conditions and South Africa is ranked 25th, worldwide, for asthma prevalence. Although asthma cannot be cured, proper diagnoses, treatment, and access to the right medication are essential factors when it comes to successfully managing the condition. Bloom Financial Services, together with their partner, Momentum Health4Me, shed some light on this serious respiratory condition and explain how the right health insurance plan can ensure you and your loved ones are provided with the right type of chronic benefits.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition where your airways narrow and swell, producing an excess amount of mucus, which results in breathing difficulties like shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Asthma occurs in varying degrees of severity. It can be a minor inconvenience for some people and a severe, life-threatening condition for others.

Signs and symptoms of asthma

Asthma symptoms will vary from person to person depending on the severity of the condition but the common and persistent asthma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest area
  • Nasal congestion
  • Feeling fatigued, especially after exercise
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Interrupted sleep as a result of breathing difficulties

Frequently asked questions about asthma

What causes asthma?

The cause of asthma remains unknown but the condition is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The condition is also heavily associated with allergies and other external sensitivities, like the weather. It’s important to recognise the triggers that cause your asthma flare-ups or attacks, so you can take preventive measures or make appropriate lifestyle changes.

What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack occurs when one’s airways narrow to the point they are unable to breathe, which could result in a loss of consciousness and, in severe cases, death. It’s important to understand and recognise the symptoms of a severe asthma attack because the severity can escalate quickly and you have to take the correct action, like using an asthma pump or inhaler. In addition to experiencing the regular symptoms associated with asthma, a person suffering from a severe asthma attack could also exhibit some of the following:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Severe chest pain
  • Difficulty talking
  • Turning pale and sweaty
  • Fingernails or lips turning blue

What to do if in case of an asthma attack?

For immediate relief, you can use an asthma pump or inhaler, which is a portable device that delivers medication directly to one’s lungs and relaxes the muscles and surrounding airways. In severe cases, where the asthma pump is not working, it’s strongly advised to seek medical attention at a hospital as soon as possible.

The 5 most common asthma triggers explained

Again, different people will have different triggers that aggravate their asthma. Some of the most commonly reported asthma triggers include:

1. Allergies

There is a very strong correlation between asthma and allergies. These could be food-related or environmental in nature. Some of the food allergies frequently associated with causing asthmatic symptoms are eggs, milk, nuts, wheat, preservatives, shellfish, and certain types of fruit. Likewise, common environmental allergies that can induce asthma are dust mites, pet or animal hair, pollen, mould, and insect waste.

2. Exercise

Robust exercise activity, like running or cycling, can cause one’s airways to narrow, resulting in asthmatic symptoms or severe asthma attacks. If you suffer from asthma, it’s important to begin exercising with a slow warm-up or avoid certain activities altogether.

3. Environmental Irritants

Extreme temperature conditions, like the cold or humidity, can trigger an asthma attack. Those areas with a high smog content or air pollution levels are also known to aggravate asthma.

4. Infections

Viral or bacterial respiratory infections, like sinusitis, bronchitis, common colds, or influenza, can trigger asthma attacks. This is especially true for children under the age of 10.

5. Emotional state

Asthmatic symptoms can be triggered by one’s emotional state. If a person is very stressed, upset, or panicked, they could experience symptoms associated with asthma.

What is the best treatment for asthma?

Asthma treatment comes in the form of short-term relief or long-term control. A short-term option, like an asthma pump or inhaler, offers quick relief to those experiencing asthmatic symptoms. The medication that is delivered to the lungs helps relax the muscles, allowing one to breathe easier. However, if one is using the inhaler more than three times per week, it’s advisable to visit your doctor to discuss long-term control, which could include oral medication that reduces the swelling of the airways and excess mucus production. Fortunately, many of these treatments are covered by medical insurance.

How to get a diagnosis for asthma

If you or a loved one have asthmatic symptoms, it’s important to get an official diagnosis as soon as possible so you can get the chronic medication required to treat and manage this condition. When you visit the doctor, they may prescribe some tests like a lung or sinus x-ray in order to confirm a diagnosis.

Am I covered for asthma with health insurance?

Yes, the Health4Me Gold Plan covers chronic benefits for asthma. However, be advised that pre-authorisation is required. It’s important to make sure you get an official diagnosis in order to qualify for chronic benefits. The medication is provided under the Momentum CareCross Network Medical Formulary. You will need to register for chronic benefits for asthma.

In order to register for chronic medication you will need to adhere to the following procedure:

  • Visit an approved network GP to receive a diagnosis
  • Once the GP has informed us of the diagnosis, they will complete a chronic medication benefit application and send this through for authorisation
  • Once approved, the GP will be able to give you a prescription for chronic medication for asthma

How can I receive my chronic asthma medication?

Momentum Health4Me will cover the cost of your chronic medication provided that it has been approved and prescribed by a network GP from the list of 26 chronic conditions. Fax or email your prescription through to a Medipost Pharmacy and let them know where to deliver this to. You can fax through to 0866 82 33 17 and email to mhealth@medipost.co.za

Takeaway

Bloom offers affordable health insurance that covers chronic medication for a number of conditions, like asthma. Make sure you’re covered for these common chronic conditions that require specialised treatment or medication. Contact our team of trained brokers for your medical insurance quotes.

Medical Content Disclaimer

You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.