Asthma: Emergency spray used too frequently

People with asthma are usually prescribed two types of inhalers:

  • Spray containing corticosteroids: serves as a long-term medication and should be used regularly to relieve inflammation and therefore the cause of the symptoms. This makes asthma attacks less common. In this case, cortisone acts only locally, that is, in the airways. Therefore, no side effects affecting the entire body are to be expected with asthma sprays.
  • SABA Spray: Contains an active ingredient that expands the bronchi. This is an emergency medication and is only used to quickly relieve acute symptoms in an emergency. The effect usually only lasts a few hours.

Good asthma treatment is characterized by the fact that the SABA spray is used as rarely as possible.

However, an analysis of prescribing data in the UK found that 26% of patients with asthma primarily used SABA inhalers and were prescribed at least six times a year. The number of prescriptions varied significantly between primary care practices: in some, 6% of patients with asthma were overprescribed, in others up to 60%.

However, the use of SABA spray instead of corticosteroid spray is associated with poor asthma control and an increase in severe asthma attacks and hospital admissions. An earlier study from 2014 even showed that excessive use of SABA spray killed more people from asthma.

Dr Anna De Simoni, of Queen Mary University of London, said: “There is considerable room for improvement: we have calculated that a reduction in patients using more than 12 SABA inhalers per year resulted in 70% less than hospitalizations for asthma in this group. “

What: DOI 10.3399 / BJGP.2021.0725

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