WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is a condition of the airways, the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When someone with asthma is exposed to a trigger, such as dust or pollen, the airways react by becoming swollen and narrow. This can make it harder to breathe. One in every ten people in Ireland suffer with asthma, making asthma the most common chronic (long-term) condition in Ireland.
While asthma can start at any age it often begins in childhood with half of all asthma suffers experience their first symptoms by the age of 10. It is also more likely that someone will develop asthma if they or their family members suffer from asthma, hay fever or eczema.
WHAT TRIGGERS ASTHMA SYMPTOMS?
For most people with asthma there are certain things that bring on symptoms and make their asthma worse. These things are known as triggers. Different people will have different triggers.
Some common triggers include:
- Temperature changes
- Cigarette smoke
- Food/pet allergies
- Airway infections
Identifying triggers and working to avoid them is an important part of helping control asthma.
WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE FOR ASTHMA?
As well as knowing your triggers, there are a number of different medicines available to keep asthma symptoms under control and treat them when they occur. Inhalers are the most common treatment for asthma. There are two main types of inhalers. Reliever inhalers (usually a blue inhaler) are used when symptoms occur. Preventer inhalers (sometimes called a controller inhaler) are used daily to prevent symptoms of asthma occurring. Inhalers have the benefit of getting to work quickly and delivering medication directly to where it is needed.
There are lots of different types of inhalers and your pharmacist is available to help you understand how to take your inhalers correctly. In some cases your doctor may prescribe oral medication (tablets/capsules) to help control symptoms of asthma if they are not well controlled or to treat a flare-up of symptoms.
HOW CAN YOUR ALLCARE PHARMACY TEAM HELP?
Following a diagnosis of asthma by a doctor, there are a number of ways in which our pharmacy team can help people to manage the condition and get the most from their medication.
We can take your peak flow reading to give an indication of your lung function and tell how well your asthma is controlled.
Your pharmacist is always available to speak with you in private about your medicines in our pharmacy consultation room. They can also review your inhaler technique to ensure you are using your inhalers correctly and getting the most benefit from them.
If you smoke, stopping smoking is one of the best changes that you can make in your journey towards better health, including managing your asthma. We have many tools in-store to help your cravings when you stop smoking such as nicotine replacement patches, gums, inhalers and lozenges. A member of our team will be happy to assist you in any queries you may have to help you stop smoking.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I, OR SOMEONE IN MY COMPANY IS HAVING AN ASTHMA ATTACK?
An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of muscles around the airways. During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways also becomes swollen or named and thicker mucus is produced.
Symptoms of an asthma attack may include: difficulty breathing, coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty performing normal daily activities
You should follow Asthma Ireland’s 5 step rule for managing Asthma Attacks:
Step 1: Take two puffs of the reliever inhaler – one puff at a time
Step 2: Sit up straight and try to remain calm
Step 3: Take slow, steady breaths
Step 4: If there is no improvement, take one puff of the reliever inhaler every minute
Step 5: If symptoms do not improve after ten minutes or if you are worried call an ambulance on 999 or 112
If someone in your company is experiencing an asthma attack follow the above steps and remember:
- Extra puffs of the reliever inhaler are safe
- Use a spacer device if they have one
- Don’t lie the individual down or put your arm around them