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Taking control of asthma

Posted on: 12 November 2018 by 50connect Promotions

In most cases, asthma should not hold you back. With the correct medication and action plan, you can take back control says Dr Alexandra Phelan.

asthma

Asthma is very common long-term condition caused by inflammation of the airways – in fact, according to Asthma UK, it affect over 5 million people in the UK, with over 1 million children suffering from the tell-tale coughing, breathlessness and wheezing.

Its severity can range from easily manageable with prescribed medication, to life-threatening.

Usually diagnosed in childhood, airways become super-sensitive and tighten when something such as pollen or animal fur irritates them. It can leave sufferers struggling to breathe, which can be as terrifying for the those watching as the person wheezing.

Sadly, asthma isn’t curable, but it is very treatable – and a lot of children grow out of it. The key is to understand what your – or your child’s – triggers are. This can include anything from cigarette smoke, to stress, or house mites.

While it’s still not known what the cause of asthma is, it’s vital to get an early diagnosis – which can take weeks or even months because children can wheeze or cough without being asthmatic.

Once you’ve got a firm diagnosis, Pharmacy2U can provide online ordering and free, convenient home delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions, so you don’t need to worry about getting to the pharmacy. Often those with asthma will be prescribed a ‘preventer’ inhaler to be used twice daily to stop attacks happening, and also a blue Ventolin ‘reliever’ inhaler for quick relief if an attack does strike. If you know you’re going to be exposed to triggers – a family with a hair-shedding dog, for instance – you can use it 10-15 minutes in advance to protect you.

Using your inhaler correctly is vital. It’s important to always breathe out fully before using your inhaler. When you do so, you create more space in your airways, ready for your next breath in. This means you can breathe in deeper and for longer when you inhale your asthma medicine. This increases the chances of the medication reaching the small airways deep inside your lungs, making it as effective as possible.

Being rigorous about using your preventer inhaler regularly can stop you having to reach for your reliever inhaler too much, which should be avoided. If you are good about regularly using your preventer, but still find yourself reaching for your reliever, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

It’s also worth getting a ‘spacer’, a special plastic tube which feeds the medication from the inhaler directly into your lungs, for maximum effect. Also ask for a spare inhaler to keep in a school bag, the car or with a teacher in case of emergencies.

Dosage of medicine is also very important, and again a pharmacist can offer free, confidential advice on that front too. It’s very useful to come up with an asthma action plan so there’s no grey area on what needs to be done to stay as healthy as possible. Never suffer in silence, because help is always there for you and family.

Remember, in the majority of cases there should be absolutely no reason why asthma should hold you back. Elite sports people from David Beckham to Paula Radcliffe have asthma, and many claim their asthma actually made them want to prove they could still compete.

Dr Alexandra PhelanDr. Alexandra Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions. Manage your repeat prescriptions by going to www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/NHS or telephone 0800 031 9162.

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The NHS repeat prescription service is only available to patients registered with a GP in England and if your surgery needs you to order directly, Pharmacy2U will tell you how to do this.
*Information provided by the NHSBSA.

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