Updated 14 February 2013

Asthma: Bonang's story

Does having asthma stop you from leading a normal life? Bonang Matheba tells us her story.

At the age of 22, Bonang Matheba has everything going for her. She's a regular face on television, a radio celebrity and is a successful business woman with her own brand of clothing. Among fans she is simply known as "B".

But did you know that this young celebrity suffers from asthma and has had it since she was five years old? "I've had asthma years," says Bonang.

She is allergic to grass, milk and cats and she struggles with activities such as running and swimming.

"I take medication twice a day in the morning and evening". The medication she uses is flixonase, seretide and asthavent.

She described what an asthma attack feels like: "It is the worst thing that anyone can possibly go through. It begins with a tight feeling in your chest, then the constriction gets worse and this limits the amount of air coming into your lungs." To her, an asthma attack feels as if she is being suffocated.

Between the ages of nine and 12, Bonang was hospitalised for severe asthma attacks. She spent four to five nights in hospital to monitor her condition. The last time she was hospitalised was in September 2001 during the 9/11 attacks on America.

Taking control
Bonang is not the only one in the family who has asthma. Her younger brother and cousin also suffer from asthma. When she was younger, her asthma was kept in check by her mother. Her mother gave her medication when she needed it and always kept her warm.

Her asthma used to be severe but she has learnt how to control it. She manages her condition by taking her medication when she needs to. She makes sure she stays away from dust, cold places, milk and fluffy animals.

The reaction she gets from people and other celebrities when she mentions that she suffers from asthma is a look of disbelieve. Many people don't believe that she is asthmatic because she has everything under control.

What triggers an asthma attack? "A sore throat, smoke or dusty surroundings could trigger an asthma attack," says Bonang.

As a presenter for LIVE, she travels around the country a lot. The place she dreads the most is Durban. Bonang says Durban is a bit humid and it takes a while for her lungs to adjust to the amount of moisture in the air.

"I thank Dr Killian for making sure that my asthma is under control and for all the advice he gives me."

- (Tandeka Bafo, June 2008/Updated October 2010)

National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)


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