Asthma is not a condition to be dismissed lightly, causing the deaths of more than 60 people a year according to asthma foundation statistics.
Tuesday is World Asthma Day and the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is aiming to improve awareness and management of asthma.
Sixty-three people die from asthma each year, and it was the cause of 7446 overnight hospitalisations in 2015, according to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.
The MidCentral district had 342 hospitalisations for asthma in 2015 and 19 deaths between 2008-13.
Palmerston North woman Sarah Findlay, 25, has had asthma since she was 2 years old, and has been in and out of hospital her entire life, including visits to the intensive care unit.
She had come close to dying four times.
She was shocked to hear how many people had died.
“It made me think ‘I have to take this more seriously’.
“Especially because my asthma is just like theirs.”
Findlay said asthma’s prevalence in society meant it could be taken for granted.
Some bad asthma attacks could be unavoidable, but others could be handled with a good plan prepared with a doctor.
Seasonal changes and drops in temperature could cause large changes in condition of asthma sufferers.
Asthma foundation chairman John Knight said the statistics in New Zealand were “absolutely shocking”.
It is launching the ‘My Asthma’ smartphone app in a bid to provide an easily accessible tool for asthma management and reduce those numbers.
The app contains steps to assist someone having an asthma attack, an electronic asthma action plan and asthma information.
“Everyone with asthma should have an asthma action plan,” Knight said.
“The plan helps you to recognise when asthma symptoms worsen and what actions to take.”
Over 521,000 people take medication for asthma − one in nine adults and one in seven children.