Urgent warning to millions of asthma sufferers over fears people are using the WRONG inhalers

OVER 5.4 million people in the UK are living with asthma.

And they are being warned today that they could be using the wrong inhaler, which could end up in the hospital.

The reliever inhaler should not be used more than three times a week, the NHS says


The reliever inhaler should not be used more than three times a week, the NHS saysCredit: Alamy

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

People with this condition are usually given a preventive inhaler (brown) and a reliever inhaler (blue).

It is best controlled by regular use of the preventive inhaler called a corticosteroid inhaler, which reduces the risk of asthma symptoms and attacks.

The reliever inhaler is used to stop symptoms when they appear and is known as a ‘SABA’ (short-acting beta-agonist) inhaler.

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Research has already shown that it is common for people with asthma to use their reliever inhaler too often.

This is defined as six or more prescriptions per year.

Relying on the reliever inhaler rather than using corticosteroids to prevent symptoms is associated with poor asthma control and an increased risk of severe asthma attacks and hospitalizations.

According to The National Review of Asthma Deaths in 2014, overuse of reliever inhalers has been identified as a common trait in people who have died from the disease.

Researchers at Queen Mary’s Clinical Effectiveness Group (CEG) wanted to see if this was contributing to higher rates of asthma hospitalizations in East London.

Hospitalizations are 14 percent above the national average.

The team analyzed over 700,000 anonymized medical records at 117 GP practices in East London.

They found that 26 percent of asthma patients are still overprescribed SABA inhalers.

Of this group, a quarter also underused preventive inhalers.

GPs in some areas overprescribe up to 60 percent of their patients.

Anna De Simoni, lead author and GP and Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care at Queen Mary University of London, said there was “considerable room for improvement”.

“Working with patients to improve regular preventive inhaler use should be central to reducing asthma-related hospitalizations,” said Dr. De Simoni.

“We calculated that helping patients who use more than 12 SABA inhalers per year to reduce their use to 4-12 could result in 70 percent fewer asthma-related hospitalizations in this group.

“There is also a need to provide GPs and pharmacists with the right tools to support patients.”

Paul Pfeffer, co-author and consultant respiratory physician with a particular interest in asthma at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “There is an ongoing large burden of inappropriate and dangerous overuse of rescue inhalers in asthma.

“Our paper highlights the complexity of the problem with multiple reasons for patients being over-prescribed SABA inhalers.

“The results call for more detailed exploration of interventions to reduce inappropriate SABA overuse in different patient groups.”

Are you using the right inhaler?

Almost everyone with asthma is given a prophylactic inhaler.

The NHS says: “Tell a GP or asthma nurse if you need to use your reliever inhaler three or more times a week. They may suggest additional treatment such as B. a preventive inhaler.”

According to Asthma UK & Lung, using your preventive inhaler more than three times a week is a sign that your condition is not under control.

It says: ‘You only use it if your symptoms worsen or you have an asthma attack. Your reliever inhaler treats asthma symptoms quickly when they appear.

“If you use your reliever inhaler regularly and rely on it to manage symptoms, you are at a higher risk of having an asthma attack.

“That’s because your reliever isn’t treating the underlying inflammation in your airways.

“Talk to your GP or asthma nurse to talk to them about how to better manage your asthma with a good preventive inhaler routine.” Urgent warning to millions of asthma sufferers over fears people are using the WRONG inhalers

Sarah Y. Kim

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