Month: October 2021




Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airways of the lung. In people with asthma, the airways are sensitive to stimuli. Therefore, those who have asthma experience recurrent and reversible flare-ups (attacks) of airway narrowing and inflammation. Asthma usually begins in childhood but can affect people of any age. During a flare-up of asthma, the symptoms can include wheeze, breathlessness, cough and chest tightness.

What causes asthma?

The actual cause and pathology behind asthma is not well-understood, but it is thought that a trigger causes airway inflammation, airway narrowing and mucous secretions. A person who has asthma will experience recurrent flare-ups (attacks) that are reversible. These flare-ups are usually triggered by exposure to some sort of stimuli or allergen, such as dust, dog or cat hair, pollen, mould, chemicals, tobacco smoke, air pollution, exercise in the cold and some types of food or drink. The symptoms of a flare-up are usually reversed by taking reliever medication, a blue or grey ‘puffer’).

How do I know if I have asthma?

During an asthma attack, common symptoms are wheeze, breathlessness, cough and chest tightness. Asthma Australia recommends that during an asthma attack, it is important to stop and rest, sit upright in a chair, and take four puffs of your asthma medication, with a spacer if you have one. If the symptoms are not relieved after four minutes, take the puffer four times again. If there is still no improvement, call 0-0-0. People with asthma who have the disease under control may not experience any symptoms normally outside of flare-ups. Refer to Asthma Australia for more information.

A GP will help diagnose asthma. They may do a variety of breathing tests to try to determine if you have asthma and how severe it is, and may then send you to a specialist medical doctor (respiratory physician) for assessment and treatment. Asthma is diagnosed based on a history of recurrent flare-ups (especially if the flare-ups occur after exposure to an allergen), reversal of symptoms and improvement in breathing immediately after taking asthma-relief medication. Because asthma cannot be cured, the treatment is focused on managing the condition and preventing flare-ups. The main component of treatment for asthma is medication (preventers and relievers) prescribed by a medical doctor.

How can physiotherapy help with asthma?

Physiotherapy is important in the management of asthma. Your physiotherapist will help educate you about your condition. They will teach you to use and clean your asthma medication devices correctly to ensure you are getting the correct dose. There are many different types of devices, such as puffers, Turbuhalers, Autohalers and tablet devices. They each work slightly differently.

Your physiotherapist can also help prescribe and supervise exercise training for you. Sometimes exercise can induce an asthma attack, so your physiotherapist will help to assess your exercise ability, your breathing and the presence of any wheeze before you commence. They can develop an appropriate exercise program for you to do at home or in a group setting, and will teach you what to do before and during exercise sessions to prevent a flare-up induced by exercise. Your physiotherapist may also teach you breathing exercises to help with your asthma.

How effective is physiotherapy for asthma?

There is growing evidence for exercise training and breathing techniques in the management of asthma. Exercise training, such as running, cycling, swimming, walking, gymnastics and weight training, can improve fitness levels and quality of life. Breathing techniques may also help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Both exercise training and breathing techniques are well-tolerated and safe for people with asthma when done correctly.

What can I do at home?

Managing your asthma at home is important. Discuss with your GP or physiotherapist about having an asthma action plan. This involves having a plan for what medication to take when you are stable, how to detect if your asthma is getting worse, and what medications to take if your asthma is getting worse. An important part of your management at home is measuring your ‘peak flow’ every morning. This measures how fast you can breathe air out of your lungs and helps you keep track of your asthma severity over time. Maintaining a physically active lifestyle is also important to keep you fit and healthy.

How long until I feel better?

The symptoms of asthma during a flare-up should be relieved within four to five minutes of taking relief medication. However, other longer-term ongoing benefits are slower to occur.

The effects of exercise training will be seen after at least one month of regular training. Evidence showing the beneficial effects of exercise training for people with asthma was seen in people exercising for a minimum of four weeks and training at least twice per week.


Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition characterized by breakdown of skeletal muscle. In young
athletes it is most commonly caused due to overexerting the muscles. Extreme muscle overuse
can damage the muscle tissue, breaking it down, which causes the release of a muscle protein
called myoglobin into the bloodstream. A big influx of myoglobin is toxic to the kidneys which
can block it’s filtration system leading to kidney complications. The severe muscle damage can
also cause an extremely high level of electrolytes to accumulate into the bloodstream which can
cause serious complications to vital organs including the heart.
Common causes:
● Trauma or crush injuries eg car accident
● Extreme muscle exertion
● Prolonged immobility
● Infections
● Muscle hypoxia
● Genetic disorders
● Body-temperature changes
● Drug or alcohol abuse
● Metabolic and electrolyte disorders
Common signs and symptoms:
● Muscle pain – the most common muscle groups affected are the calves and lower back
● Muscle weakness or stiffness
● Dark coloured urine due to excessive myoglobin levels
● Flu-like symptoms
● Elevated creatine-kinase level
● Urgent medical management is recommended initially which may include treatment to
manage electrolyte imbalances and intravenous fluids to help maintain urine production
and prevent organ damage.
● It is important to adequately hydrate, retain range of motion and avoid overexertion to
prevent creating more muscle breakdown.
● Physiotherapy management will often include rehabilitation to regain range of motion,
muscle strength, and full function to assist in progressing back to physical activity.


Staff Profile – Matilda Wayte

Matilda Wayte


Matilda is a qualified Exercise Physiologist, who is passionate about improving people’s lives through movement and physical activity. Graduating from QUT in 2018, Matilda initially plied her trade in Brisbane before joining the Mackay team in Sep 2021.
Matilda’s love for human movement came from 15 years as a Gymnast where she competed at a national level on a twice. Nowadays Matilda stays active by playing team sports or exploring the beautiful local Queensland mountains and beaches.
Believing that everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of physical activity no matter their age, gender, or condition, Matilda works with all her patients to tailor an exercise program specific to their goals. Matilda is also currently studying Neurological rehabilitation at ECU and has a particular interest in Clinical Pilates, Hydrotherapy, Mental health, Women’s health, and Chronic disease management.

Exercise Physiologist Matilda Wayte