There have been great strides made over the last 25 years in treating asthma and helping people manage their condition better. But, many are still struggling with how to live with their asthma, or how to best treat their asthmatic child.
According to a study conducted by the University of Sydney, even experienced, long-term inhaler users aren’t always getting the most out of their medication.
Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile says that technique checks are necessary to ensure people are using their inhalers correctly.
“When asthma sufferers use their inhaler incorrectly they risk complications and flare ups, are at greater risk of hospitalisation and even waste the medication, so our in-store checks are to ensure that more people understand how to use their device so that we can improve respiratory health across the board,” he says.
Nevile says asthma-related doctor and hospital visits can often be avoided as people learn how best to use their inhaler and improve their technique.
“Good technique improves the health of asthmatics and means they suffer fewer symptoms, have increased lung function and reduces their medication costs.”
James Nevile’s five tips for better inhaler use:
Use a spacer: You’ll get more out of your medication and reduce the risk of side effects. But be sure to replace it every 12 months.
Take a deep breath: Before using your inhaler, take a big breath in and out to prepare for the dose of medication (do this away from the inhaler device).
Seal the deal: Make sure your lips form a solid seal around your device.
Hold on: Hold your breath for 5 – 10 seconds after receiving a dose of medication, then breathe out away from your inhaler.
Rinse out: If your inhaler requires, rinse your mouth out with water after you’ve used it. Your pharmacist will let you know if you need to complete this step for your inhaler.
James Nevile’s top tips for asthmatics to take action of their health:
Get the flu shot: Be proactive about protecting your health when each flu season rolls around by getting the flu shot.
Take the technique check test: Almost all asthmatics who use an inhaler are using it incorrectly, which can increase risks and reduce the benefits of the medication. A pharmacist can help you get the most out of your inhaler by checking out your technique and suggesting ways to improve.
Have an action plan: Make sure you have an up to date asthma action plan. Speak with your doctor to tailor the plan to your symptoms and needs. Having a plan in place means that you can manage your day to day symptoms more effectively so that you can identify if your asthma is getting worse and keep track of serious symptoms that need medical attention.
Review your plan regularly: Your asthma action plan should be reviewed every six months, or after a flare up of symptoms. If your asthma is getting worse or more frequent, for example if you have to take reliever medicine more than twice a week, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Keep friends and family in the loop: Those close to you should know what to do in case you have an asthma flare up, so be sure to take them through the asthma emergency first aid procedure. This four-step process includes:
- Sit the person upright and provide reassurance. Don’t leave them unattended.
- Follow the asthma action plan and give the person the medicine they need. This is usually four separate puffs of a reliever medicine, but you should following your personal asthma action plan at this step.
- Wait four minutes and if there is little or no improvement then repeat steps 2 and 3.
- If there is still no improvement, call an ambulance immediately and repeat steps 2 and 3 until it arrives.
*Please speak to your doctor for a full explanation on asthma first aid and your personalised asthma action plan. This is general advice only. If you are experiencing asthma symptoms or need help with the management of your asthma, speak with your GP and pharmacist for advice.