Respiratory Health

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Our respiratory system is made up of a complex network of tissues and organs that work together to help us breathe. This system includes our lungs, airways and blood vessels that transport oxygen to our organs to absorb, allowing them to work.

Our respiratory system also plays other vital roles in our daily lives, including allowing us to smell and talk, expel carbon dioxide and regulate our bodies' temperature. That's why maintaining the health of our respiratory system is incredibly important for our overall well-being and quality of life. However, in its complexity, our respiratory system can also be very delicate and susceptible to many different conditions.

Many respiratory conditions can develop due to our breathing. For example, when we breathe in, we can introduce irritants, like bacteria and viruses, into our system that can cause infections. Other conditions often occur as a result of age, disease or damage. Common respiratory conditions include allergies, asthma and colds.

One in six New Zealanders live with a respiratory condition. But not all respiratory conditions need to be a cause for concern. Some, like hay fever, are very common and a part of daily life. They can also resolve themselves without complications. However, others can be serious, particularly when left untreated. That's why it's important to seek medical care if you are experiencing any ongoing issues with your respiratory health.

Common signs of a respiratory issue

By understanding the common symptoms of respiratory conditions, you can be better prepared to seek timely medical care. A doctor can help diagnose your respiratory condition through visual assessment, conversation and tests to determine an appropriate treatment.

Though symptoms are issue-specific, there are some common symptoms we can look for that point to an respiratory condition existing. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Inflammation (swelling, irritation and pain)
  • Congestion
  • Mucus buildup
  • Wheezing

If you experience any prolonged or worsening symptoms, it's important to see a doctor.

What respiratory issues do we treat?

You might be surprised by the wide range of conditions Bettr can take care of for you.

As long as it’s not a medical emergency, our doctors can help you with a wide range of health issues and healthcare services in the comfort of your home. For example, during a consultation, our doctors can help diagnose your issue, prescribe medication to treat acute (right now) symptoms and suggest lifestyle changes for long-term prevention where relevant.

Respiratory issues we can help treat through Bettr include the following:

  • Asthma
    New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world. Asthma is a lung condition that causes sufferers to have sensitive airways, which, when triggered, may swell, narrow, and, in some instances, produce extra mucus. When this occurs, breathing can become difficult, and you can be short of breath. Asthma severity can vary, and though it can’t be cured, medications can manage symptoms. Asthma can change over time, so it is best to track signs and symptoms with your doctor. If you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
  • Bronchitis
    Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways that carry air to and from your lungs, your bronchi and trachea, causing them to fill with mucus. Bronchitis is well known for causing a mucusy cough and chest discomfort. Fatigue, fever, and shortness of breath can also be experienced. There are two types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. A cold or respiratory infection often brings on acute bronchitis and typically goes away on its own. Chronic bronchitis is constant and often brought on by smoking; symptoms can be managed with your doctor. If you are short of breath, cough up blood or have a high fever, please contact a doctor.
  • Hay fever
    Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic response to allergens in our environment. It is very common in New Zealand and can occur in individuals seasonally or year-round. Hay fever symptoms include sneezing, coughing, an itchy, runny or blocked nose, red, itchy or watery eyes, and sometimes tiredness. The best way to prevent hay fever is to avoid known triggers, like pollen or dust mites. However, this is now always practical, and the likes of antihistamines and nasal sprays can be taken to manage symptoms. Hay fever can also make asthma worse, so if you suffer from both, it is best to see a doctor.
  • Sinusitis
    Our sinuses are small air-filled spaces behind our forehead and cheekbones, above and below our eyes. Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is an inflammation of the lining of our sinuses and can result in a full feeling in our heads, facial pain or headache and difficulty breathing due to blocked nasal passages. Colds and allergies often cause acute sinusitis, which typically gets better on its own. However, in the case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be needed. If sinusitis lasts for three months or more, it is known as chronic sinusitis and medications, and surgical treatments may be required to treat it.
  • RTIs (Respiratory Tract Infections)
    RTIs are infections that occur in any part of the body in breathing, including the lungs, airways, throat, nose and sinuses. RTIs usually occur after a cold or flu. There are two categories of RTIs, upper and lower. Upper RTIs are considered less serious than lower RTIs and can often be treated at home. Examples of upper RTIs include sinusitis and tonsilitis. Lower RTIs may require medical attention, particularly for young children, older adults, and pregnant women. Lower RTIs, also known as chest infections, affect our larger airways and lungs. Examples of Lower RTIs include bronchitis and pneumonia.

Other respiratory issues we can treat include Glandular fever, Chest Infection, Allergies, Chronic sinusitis, Cold, and Flu.

Many other conditions not on this list will also be fine for online support. However, if your doctor thinks you need a face-to-face consultation for further treatment, they will discuss this with you to arrange the best next steps.

See a doctor online with Bettr

If you or a family member are suffering from respiratory health issues, like the above, you can book an appointment with our doctors, who can often treat your condition online.

We offer same-day appointments and online prescriptions. There’s no app to download, no need to change GP and no registration; just immediate healthcare wherever you are. And should you become unwell because of an accident, we also offer ACC and injury care. Should you need a medical certificate, we can do that too.

Following your online consult, should you need to see a doctor face to face to treat your respiratory health issue, we can make it easy by referring you to one of our nearly 50 GP and medical clinics from Whangārei to Christchurch.

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If you're in Auckland you can register today and see a doctor for $45. You can also see a doctor in-person at any of our 40+ GP clinics for under $20*. Learn More