Living with Asthma

Asthma is more common than you might think: according to Asthma UK, one in five households has someone living with asthma.

We don’t know exactly what causes asthma, however people are more likely to develop asthma if they have a family history of asthma, eczema or other allergies. People are twice as likely to develop asthma if their parents have asthma.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest tightness
  • A common symptom in children is coughing, especially at night

Every person living with asthma is different and will have varying severity of symptoms. Their symptoms may be better or worse at different times and there may be periods when people have asthma symptoms, but in between they are generally well.

‘I was speaking to a customer last week who said that her eight year old son has asthma. She was confused about the different inhalers the GP had prescribed for him ... he now has to use a brown inhaler as well as the blue one he has been using for the last year or so.’

Treating Your Asthma 

Inhalers are the main treatment used to manage the symptoms of asthma, and the two most common types of inhaler are ‘relievers’ (usually blue) and ‘preventers’ (usually brown).

If symptoms are occurring regularly and the use of a reliever inhaler is needed more than three times a week, most weeks, a preventer inhaler may also be needed to control symptoms more effectively. Preventer inhalers need to be used regularly, even when there are no asthma symptoms present.

Inhalers are not the easiest devices to use correctly. In 2012, research by the British Medical Association found that more than half of asthma sufferers including children were ending up in accident and emergency with serious breathing difficulties because they struggled to use a metered dose inhaler properly.

If you are not sure if you, or your child, are using your inhalers correctly, ask your pharmacist, asthma nurse or doctor to show you and check your inhaler technique. You should also ask them for advice if you are finding it difficult to control your symptoms.

If your child has asthma, they should be encouraged to manage their condition so they learn about their medicines and how to recognise and manage asthma attacks.

Asthma Prevention Advice

The following can help manage/prevent asthma symptoms:

  • Avoid things that trigger asthma symptoms, such as animal hair or strong perfume. Triggers will be different from one person to another
  • Stop smoking; this will benefit you if you have asthma as well as other people in your household with asthma
  • Regular exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling can help
  • Maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet
  • Have a flu vaccination each year
  • Check with your pharmacist before taking over the counter medicines as some can make asthma worse
  • Make sure you understand how to use your medicines correctly and what to do if your symptoms suddenly get worse

The Alphega Asthma Check Service aim to help you better understand the medicines you take, how they work, what they do, as well as looking at your inhaler technique. It will also help your pharmacist identify any problems you may be experiencing such as side effects or interactions with other medicines.

Asthma guide infographic
See more: Living with Asthma Infographic