This blog post was written by Fiona, our pharmacist in our Shamrock Plaza store! Stop in and visit Fiona or any of our Pharmacists in your local store if you have any questions on Asthma, Allergies or any other health and wellness topics. We’re here to help make a better you, today.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a very common lung condition that causes symptoms like cough, chest tightness, difficulty breathing and wheeze. According to the Asthma Society of Ireland around 470,000 adults and children have asthma in Ireland.
Asthma is a chronic, variable condition. This means that someone with asthma must learn how to live with and manage their symptoms. They must also learn to recognise when their breathing is deteriorating. All of this can be very challenging. Around 20,000 people attend a hospital emergency department every year because of their asthma. It can be especially frightening for parents when young children have asthma.
The symptoms of asthma are caused by inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the tubes of your lungs. When the lungs get inflamed, the tubes narrow and air does not move freely through them. This inflammation causes the breathlessness and wheeze that we all associate with asthma.
How is asthma treated?
The first piece of good news is that your doctor can prescribe many effective treatments for asthma. Most people are prescribed inhalers because an inhaler will deliver its active ingredient directly into the lungs where it is needed. Some people, especially children, may also be prescribed tablets. It is important to remember that not all inhalers are the same. Inhalers for asthma fall into two main categories:
- Rescue (relievers) inhalers: e.g. Ventolin® or Salamol® (contain a drug called salbutamol). Rescue inhalers work quickly to open up the tubes of your lungs. They ease symptoms and allow you to breathe more easily. However, rescue inhalers do NOT target the inflammation which is underlying cause of asthma symptoms.
- Controller (preventers) inhalers: e.g. Becotide®, Beclazone®, Flixotide®, Symbicort® or Seretide® (contain a variety of ingredients). These inhalers all contain a medicine called a steroid. The steroid targets the inflammation which causes the asthma symptoms. If used correctly, they keep symptoms under control!
How can your McCauley Pharmacy Team help?
The second piece of good news is that well controlled asthma is a realistic goal for most people. If you, or one of your children has asthma, your McCauley Pharmacy Team is here to help you to optimise its management. Well-controlled asthma does NOT regularly limit your daily activities (e.g. prevent you from playing football or doing things that you enjoy), it does NOT regularly involve waking at night with symptoms and it does not require regular use of your rescue inhaler.
How can you achieve this?
- Know your medicines and use them correctly – Ask your pharmacist.
- Do you know which of your medicines is prescribed to help you to control your asthma symptoms and to prevent them from occurring? Do you know which of your medicines is prescribed to relieve or ease symptoms quickly when they occur? Do you know what to expect from your medicines? Do you know how to reduce your risk of side effects? If you don’t, ask your pharmacist.
- Get your inhaler technique checked!
- The next time you visit our pharmacy to get your asthma medicines ask a member of our pharmacy team to check your inhaler technique. According to the Asthma society, “Over 300,000 people with asthma in Ireland are not using their inhalers correctly”. That means that 2 out of 3 people with asthma are not getting the full benefit from their asthma medicines. So, even if you are using inhalers for years, get your technique checked.
- If you smoke – quit!
- Of course giving up smoking is very difficult, but nothing worth having is easy to get and there are many resources available to help. The HSE quit – smoking website is a fantastic resource, or why not drop into one of our stores and join our Stop Smoking Club. For every €10 spent on smoking cessation products, earn a sticker and be rewarded with a gift voucher worth up to €50.
- If you suffer from Hayfever – look after it.
- Many people with asthma, also suffer from Hayfever. Your local McCauley Pharmacy can advise you on the best treatment options for your symptoms. We’ve got a Hayfever Bundle on offer this month to help you treat all symptoms and breathe easy. Stop into your nearest McCauley Pharmacy to see our allergy products that are on offer.