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RESPIRATORY PATIENT RESOURCES

If you have asthma - whether you've had the condition for a long time or just recently diagnosed - its important that you look after your physical and mental health and well-being. Staying fit and healthy and using your inhalers as prescribed will help to keep your symptoms under control and prevent asthma attacks. This section tells you a little bit about asthma and provides some top tips to staying fit and well.

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ABOUT ASTHMA1

Asthma is a chronic, long-term condition that affects the airways, causing breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and although it often starts in childhood, it can also develop for the first time in adults. It may be caused by an allergy such as house dust mites, animal fur or pollen, or exposure to smoke, pollution and cold air.

The main symptoms are wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse – known as an asthma attack.

There is currently no cure for asthma but there are treatments, usually given as inhalers, that can help to relieve symptoms and keep them under control.

Inhalers can help to relieve symptoms when they occur (reliever inhalers, usually blue) or stop symptoms from developing (preventer inhalers, usually brown). Some people will be prescribed an inhaler that both relieves and prevents symptoms.

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Top Tips1

With treatment, most people with asthma can live normal lives but there are also simple things you can do to help keep your symptoms under control.

Use your inhaler correctly
Use your inhaler correctly

Ask your health care professional (HCP) to show you how to use your inhaler properly. Asthma UK also has useful information about using your inhaler

Your preventer inhaler or tablets
Your preventer inhaler or tablets

Use your preventer inhaler (or take your tablets) every day to help keep symptoms under control and prevent asthma attacks

Checking medication
Checking medication

Check before taking other medicines. Some medicines are unsuitable for people with asthma so check the packet or information leaflet, and ask a HCP if you are not sure

Stop smoking
Stop smoking

This can significantly reduce how severe and frequent your symptoms are

Regular exercise
Regular exercise

Exercise should not trigger symptoms if you are receiving appropriate treatment

Healthy eating
Healthy eating

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Stay well
Stay well

Ask your GP about having the flu jab every winter and the one-off pneumococcal vaccination

Tell your HCP if you have to use your reliever (blue) inhaler three or more times a week.

Tell your HCP if you continue to have symptoms despite using your preventer inhaler.

Preventer inhalers can sometimes cause a fungal infection in your mouth (thrush), sore throat or hoarseness. You can help to prevent these side effects by using a spacer device and/or rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your inhaler.

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Useful Links

There are a number of established resources available for people with asthma, which provide information on the condition and how it is treated, and advice on how to stay well.

Asthma UK: www.asthma.org.uk
NHS: www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma
British Lung Foundation Breathe Easy support groups: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/breathe-easy

References

  1. NHS. Asthma. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/ [Accessed June 2020].