People with asthma have been reminded by a top Fylde coast doctor to use their inhalers correctly to avoid ending up in hospital this winter.
Over the past two years, unplanned asthma-related hospital admissions have increased significantly in winter months as the cold, damp air gets into people’s airways.
But medics say some of this could be avoided if people use their inhalers correctly.
Fleetwood GP Dr Adam Janjua said: “Across the Fylde coast last year there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of unplanned hospital admissions within asthma patients. The year before the increase was almost 50 per cent.”
People who suffer from asthma are given a ‘reliever’ inhaler to help them if they feel out of breath.
People who require more regular use of a reliever inhaler are given a second inhaler, called a ‘preventer’, which provides a more effective long term relief of symptoms. These preventer inhalers must be used regularly as prescribed by a doctor.
People should not need to use a reliever inhaler regularly. Anyone using it more than twice a week needs to speak to their GP.
Dr Janjua said: “What we tend to find is that some people stop using their regular preventer inhaler during the warm summer months because they do not experience symptoms.
“Then when it gets to winter people use the blue reliever inhaler more than they should. This suggests the asthma is uncontrolled. If they suffer with a viral infection they may even end up being on oral steroids which are much stronger than the steroids in the preventer inhaler.
“Unfortunately we can get people requesting a prescription for their reliever inhaler on a regular basis. If their asthma is well controlled they should only need a maximum of two reliever inhalers a year.
“Repeat requests for the reliever inhaler will prompt your GP to ask you to come in for an asthma review.
“What we need, especially as the temperature drops, is for people to make sure they are using the correct inhaler in the correct way. If they are still having problems then they need to book an appointment with their asthma nurse to have a look at their medication.”
People with asthma are also reminded they are entitled to a free flu jab. You can speak to your GP practice to arrange this.
More information on how to correctly treat your asthma symptoms can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/treatment.