What is asthma?

Asthma is a disease that can make it difficult to breathe. It inflames and narrows the airways and may cause wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing when exposed to irritants (triggers).

Someone with asthma has sensitive airways in their lungs. The airways may tighten/partially close, swell inside and make more mucus when you come into contact with a trigger. This makes it hard to breathe in but even harder to breathe out.

You can listen to the difference between normal breath sounds and those with a range of respiratory conditions here.

Someone struggling to breathe? Watch our Asthma First Aid video, to find out what to do in an emergency.

Read more about Asthma Triggers

Asthma triggers

What is a trigger?

An asthma trigger is anything that brings on asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing.

Asthma triggers can include:

  • Cold air or cold damp weather (living in cold and damp homes
  • Animal fur / dander
  • Smoking (active or passive)
  • Exercise
  • Allergies (E.g. pollens)
  • Dust mites / dusty environments
  • Exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals, stress, and even diet

Correct use of the right prescribed inhalers can help both control asthma symptoms and prevent them from reoccurring in the future. An Asthma Management Plan also helps the individual manage their asthma and maintain optimum control.

Lung Function Test

What is Spirometry?

Spirometry or Lung Function Testing is a simple test that measures how quickly and how much air you can blow out. Spirometry is useful in diagnosing and managing lung disease especially for measuring and monitoring asthma and chronic pulmonary lung disease (COPD). It is recommended to have regular testing if you have a lung disease.

Having a spirometry test is straightforward. The test involves you taking a full breath in and blowing out as hard and fast as you can into a tube attached to the spirometry machine. The test is performed sitting down.

Our Breathe Hawke’s Bay team of nurses can carry out this test as part of a respiratory assessment. These take 45mins – 1hr and we charge just $5.00 for the spirometry portion to cover the cost of your own personal mouthpiece.

You may be required to do a pre and post spirometry test. This entails you taking a reliever inhaler such as Salbutamol (Ventolin, Respigen, Salair, Salamol) so we can measure how well it works for you. You will be asked not to take your usual reliever medication for a few hours prior to the test so we can get an accurate reading.


Asthma First Aid


Spacer Demonstration


What is an Asthma Self Management Plan?

Asthma Self Management Plans are written instructions, arranged with your doctor, outlining the best day-to-day management of your condition to avoid your asthma flaring up or causing an emergency situation.

Find out if your asthma is under control. Take the asthma test here www.asthmacontrol.co.nz

We support those living with asthma in Hawke’s Bay through a number of services. For more information visit  our services for individuals and families, for schools/ECEs/kōhanga,  for employers or our additional services to see how we can help you.


Do you need an Asthma Self Management Plan?

Contact us

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