Nossie Lutske knows how serious asthma can be.

Her daughter Zarika was just 4-months-old when she developed croup and ended up in hospital. Doctors told her it was a bronchial infection.

Over the next two months she was taken to hospital three more times, each time "wheezing like mad".

The fourth time, she "turned blue" and was rushed to the intensive care unit. It was after this Mrs Lutske demanded to see a specialist, who diagnosed asthma.


The next few years were a rollercoaster as the family came to grips with nebulisers and asthma pumps.

"She couldn't run outside for half an hour with wheezing."

The family moved from South Africa to Northland just over two years ago and the move has done wonders for Zarika's asthma.

"She's never been in a hospital from asthma. She's still on a prevention pump but she's doing much better."

Mrs Lutske said it had been a huge change for her now 6-year-old daughter, who played netball and was a very active child.

"I'm quite pleased. The doctors told me I can pack away the nebulising machine."

Zarika takes two puffs in the morning and two puffs before bed of her preventative inhaler.

But Mrs Lutske said they were always prepared - her daughter carried an inhaler in her bag and she carried one as well.


"You never know when it's going to happen."

However, Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ spokesperson Jim Reid said not everyone understood how serious their asthma was.

"We can't escape that over 70 people died from asthma last year and they were all preventable."

A report called The impact of respiratory disease in New Zealand: 2016 update released in March shows the prevalence of asthma in Northland children is slightly more than 19 per cent, or almost one in five. This is almost five per cent higher than the national average.

Mr Reid said there were a number of reasons why Northland's rate may be higher.

He said some doctors had a lower threshold for diagnosing asthma, there was a higher prevalence in people of Pacific and Maori ethnicities, and some localities seemed to have a higher incidence of asthma.

Figures show more than 300 Northlanders are hospitalised each year.

Mr Reid said the Asthma Control Test was one of the ways these numbers could be reduced. The test gives a score for symptoms to see how severe they are.

He also encouraged people to take their medication properly and always have a written action plan.

"So they know what to do and when to do it when asthma strikes."

My Ashma app released

A new smartphone app will help Kiwis manage their asthma attacks and respiratory problems.

The My Asthma app was released on Tuesday to coincide with World Asthma Day.

It contains an Asthma Action Plan and information the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ urges every Kiwi to have on hand.

Chairman John Knight said the new app was aimed at decreasing the numbers of deaths and overnight hospital stays due to asthma and making New Zealanders more aware of symptoms and more prepared to manage their asthma.

In 2015 there were a total of 7446 overnight hospital stays across the country and those who live in deprived regions, such as Northland, are 3.7 times more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of asthma.

With almost one in five Northland children having asthma, the app is crucial for Northlanders.

It is available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store.