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Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory condition in Ireland. It causes occasional breathing difficulties including wheeze, breathlessness, chest tightness and cough. It affects people of all ages but usually begins in childhood, although some children can grow out of the condition. Asthma is also linked to various other conditions like eczema, hay fever and food allergies. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition but there are many effective medications available that help control its symptoms!

Asthma is usually controlled by an inhaler device. The main types are:

Reliever inhalers – these are only used when needed and are often blue e.g. salbutamol

Preventer inhalers – these need to be used every day to keep symptoms under continuous control. They can be found alone in devices or also with a second drug to further aid in keeping the airways open

If asthma cannot be controlled by inhalers alone, some people may need to take oral medication

At Brennan’s, our pharmacists can advise you on the proper use of your asthma inhaler. Poor inhaler technique leads to a decreased amount of medicine delivered to the lungs. It can also increase the risk of side effects. Our pharmacists can also answer any questions you have about the condition and your treatment plan.

Asthma symptoms can occur at any time or after exposure to a trigger. Common triggers include:

  • Infection to bacteria or viruses – the annual flu vaccine offered in our pharmacies can prevent the most common flu strains from infecting asthma sufferers. It is advisable for these individuals to receive the vaccine every year, as infection with the virus can be serious.
  • Cold air, smoke or pollution – smoking leads to the worsening of asthma and can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We offer advice on quitting smoking (smoking cessation) along with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in our branches
  • Medicines – e.g. anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen
  • Allergies e.g. to pollen
  • Exercise

Although the symptoms can commonly be kept under control, asthma can still cause serious problems and affect an individual’s quality of life. It is therefore vital for individuals to take their medication as prescribed and report on the worsening of any symptoms. Poorly controlled asthma can cause infection, chronic fatigue, stress, difficulty sleeping, decreased lung function or bring on an asthma attack. It is also critical that patients know how to identify and act if an asthma attack occurs:

If your breathing becomes fast, your symptoms suddenly become worse, you become too breathless to talk or your inhaler fails to provide adequate relief, then you may be having an asthma attack:

  1. Sit up straight and try to stay calm
  2. Take slow steady breaths
  3. Take one puff of reliever inhaler per minute (using a spacer if available) – max 10 puffs in 10mins for ages 6+ and 6 puffs in 10mins for under 6
  4. Call an ambulance if no improvement after 10 minutes and repeat the steps until it arrives

Our team of trained healthcare providers can help you optimise control of your symptoms. We offer lifestyle advice, counselling on prescribed medications, guidance on good inhaler technique, flu vaccination and can signpost to other appropriate medical professionals. Call in to one of our branches today and let us help you feel your best!

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