OVER 5.4 million people in the UK are living with asthma.
And today they were warned that they could use the wrong inhaler, which could end up in the hospital.
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 preventative 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’ inhaler (short-acting beta agonist).
Research has already shown that it’s 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 hospital admissions.
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 from Queen Mary’s Clinical Effectiveness Group (CEG) wanted to see if this was contributing to higher rates of asthma hospitalizations in East London.
Admissions are 14 percent above the national average.
The team analyzed over 700,000 anonymous medical records at 117 primary care practices in East London.
They found that 26% of patients with asthma still have over-prescribing SABA inhalers.
Of this group, a quarter also underused preventive inhalers.
General practitioners in some areas over-prescribe up to 60% of their patients.
Anna De Simoni, lead author and family doctor and clinical lecturer in primary care at Queen Mary University of London, said there is “considerable room for improvement.”
“Working with patients to improve regular preventive use of inhalers should be key to reducing hospitalizations for asthma,” said Dr. De Simoni.
“We calculated that helping patients who use more than 12 SABA inhalers per year reduce their use to 4-12 could result in 70% fewer asthma hospitalizations in this group.
“There is also a need to provide family doctors and pharmacists with the right tools to support patients.”
Paul Pfeffer, co-author and respiratory medical consultant with a particular interest in asthma at the Barts Health NHS Trust, said, “There is a great ongoing burden of inappropriate and dangerous overuse of rescue inhalers in asthma.
“Our paper highlights the complexity of the problem with multiple reasons why patients are prescribed excess SABA inhalers.
“The findings require a more detailed exploration of interventions to reduce the excessive use of inappropriate SABA in different patient groups.”
Are you using the right inhaler?
Almost everyone with asthma gets a prophylactic inhaler.
The NHS says, “Tell a family doctor 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 preventative inhaler.
According to Asthma UK & Lung, using your preventative 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 get worse 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 your symptoms, you have a higher risk of having an asthma attack.
“This is because your remedy isn’t treating the underlying inflammation in the airways.
“Talk to your GP or asthma nurse to talk to them about how to better manage asthma with a good preventative routine of inhalers.”