CONSTANT REMINDER: Zayla Phillips, 5, suffers from severe asthma.
CONSTANT REMINDER: Zayla Phillips, 5, suffers from severe asthma. Cordell Richardson

Support for new online asthma checklist after rise in deaths

WATCHING her daughter's nostrils start to flare is enough for mum of three Jessica Smart to be on guard.

Her five-year-old daughter, Zayla, suffers from severe asthma and has become used to hospital wards during her short years.

She was diagnosed after her fourth visit to the intensive care unit at the Queensland Children's Hospital at the age of two, after being admitted for bronchitis, respiratory syncytial virus and other respiratory issues.

Zayla's last serious attack was earlier this year but her mum said the closest call happened two years ago.

After a coughing fit on a winter afternoon in 2017, she was rushed to Ipswich Hospital and put on high flow oxygen.

By the following night, she was still struggling to breath and eventually transferred to the Queensland Children's Hospital in the early hours of the next morning.

"She just couldn't breathe herself," Ms Smart said.

Ms Smart said it was something that always plays on her mind and it's a "day to day struggle".

"They've put her basically on an adult preventer," Ms Smart said.

"Even at night, I'm (always thinking) is she breathing OK. If I see her starting to sneeze or cough, I've got to watch her 24/7. Especially being at school and her running around and overdoing it.

"Some of the staff at the hospitals haven't seen a kid drop so fast. One minute she could be running around happily and two hours later she could be nearly flatlined. It's very scary."

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a slight increase in asthma-related deaths in Queensland; the only state in the country to experience a rise.

There were 389 deaths recorded in Australia last year, with 79 in Queensland.

The National Asthma Council of Australia is supporting a new interactive online asthma checklist developed by an international team of patients, advocacy groups and experts, which helps people define their asthma and spot the signs that they need to talk to their doctor.

"If your asthma treatment isn't working for you, it may be because your asthma or allergies aren't well controlled," NAC chief executive Siobhan Brophy said.

"Simply speaking to your doctor or pharmacists could give you the chance to get your life back on track and breathe better."

Ms Smart said in her experience hospital staff did not always have their head around the best way to treat asthmatics.

"Some (hospital staff), they're not trained enough to deal with asthmatics," she said.

NAC spokesperson and GP Dr Ian Almond said that while severe asthma affects only about three to 10 per cent of the 2.5 million Australians with asthma, it can be life-threatening and deeply distressing for patients and their families.

"Severe asthma, which is asthma that requires regular treatment with intensive, high-dose medication, has a huge impact on people's health, careers, families and daily lives," he said.

'While it's important that people who can benefit from new treatments are identified correctly, it's just as important to ensure people understand what type of asthma they might have and how to properly manage their condition so they can live a life without asthma defining it."

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