Reliever inhalers should be provided to everyone with asthma. They are typically blue and used to quickly relieve asthma symptoms.
Reliever inhalers usually contain a short-acting Beta2-Agonist, which works to relax the muscles that surround the narrowed airways. This action allows the airways to dilate, which allows the sufferer to breathe with more ease. However, reliever inhalers do not actively work to reduce any inflammation in the airways. This means that they do not improve the condition in the long-term.
Reliever inhalers are only intended for the short-term relief of the associated symptoms.
Examples of reliever medicines include; Salbutamol and Terbutaline. These medicines are well tolerated and generally offer few side-effects unless abused or overused. If the asthma is well controlled then reliever inhalers should rarely need to be used.
Anyone needing to use a reliever inhaler more than three times a week should have their asthma treatment reviewed
Preventer inhalers are normally brown, red or orange. They are designed to work over time to help reduce the amount of inflammation in the airways. This action also helps to reduce the risk of an asthma attack occurring.
They are intended for indefinite, regular use and are typically used twice daily. A once daily dose is also used but this is less common.
Preventer inhalers need to be taken for some time before a sufferer starts to notice the full benefit. Initially, it may be necessary to occasionally use a reliever inhaler in conjunction with the preventer. However, your asthma treatment should be reviewed if you find the need to use them too frequently.
Preventer inhalers commonly contain an inhaled corticosteroid, such as Beclomethasone, Budesonide, Ciclesonide, Fluticasone or Mometasone.
Preventer treatment should be used regularly, providing your asthma symptoms are anything more than occasional. If a sufferer is finding the need to use a reliever inhaler more than twice a week then they should also be using a preventer.
Some inhaled corticosteroids can sometimes cause mild fungal infections (oral thrush) of the mouth and throat. This is why it is recommended to rinse the mouth thoroughly after administering a dose. Using a spacer device will also help reduce the risk of developing this type of infection. Further information on side-effects can be found below. Smoking can reduce the effectiveness of preventer inhalers.
Reliever medications are safe, effective and carry little in way of side-effects. This is provided they are not abused and used too often.
The most common side-effects are tremors of the hand, headaches and muscle cramps. It should be noted that these side-effects generally only occur with high doses of reliever medication. Also, the effects usually subside after just a few minutes.
Normal doses of preventer medication usually does not produce many side-effects. Although, at higher doses, a range of side-effects can occur, especially with long-term use. The main side-effect being a fungal infection of the mouth or throat, this is sometimes referred to as oral candidiasis or oral thrush. This will likely produce a hoarse voice and sore throat. Using a spacer device will help prevent this side-effect. Also, cleaning your teeth and rinsing your mouth after each use will reduce the risk of developing oral candidiasis.
A doctor or asthma nurse can help advise ways to balance controlling your asthma with minimising the potential side-effects.
Reliever inhalers usually begin to work within a few minutes after inhalation. The effects tend to last for 3-5 hours.
Preventer inhalers need to be used regularly in order to gain any effect. If you are suffering an asthma attack, preventer inhalers will not provide any immediate relief. During an attack, you should use a reliever inhaler to ease the symptoms.
Certain inhalers combine both the reliever and preventer into one device, for example; Symbicort. This combination device can be used as a reliever treatment, though it should only be used in this fashion if a doctor has authorised its use as a rescue treatment.
If you have never been diagnosed with asthma then you would need to see your doctor before treatment could be provided. This is so they can assess your condition and perform the necessary breathing tests. They will likely ask whether there are any allergic conditions present like eczema or hayfever as these symptoms can sometimes run side by side with asthma.
As many asthma symptoms are similar to other conditions, it is important to seek professional help in order to receive an informed diagnosis.
Once you have been diagnosed with asthma and after your condition is well managed, you can obtain repeat prescriptions online from us or from your local GP surgery. It is important to have your condition checked regularly and your treatment altered if your condition changes.
Approximately 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma in The UK. This works out to be one in every twelve adults and one in every eleven children.
Asthma in adults tends to be more common amongst women.
For most sufferers, asthma is a long-term condition, especially if the condition first develops in adulthood.
Asthma symptoms can be controlled and reversed with the appropriate treatment. However, some sufferers can develop a permanent narrowing of the airways, which may incur more persistent symptoms and problems.
Many children diagnosed with asthma can find that their symptoms improve or even disappear during adolescence. Although, in some cases the condition can recur later in life. Children who suffer from moderate to severe asthma are more likely to find their condition persisting into adulthood.
It is not fully understood why certain people develop asthma, although having a family history of it is a known factor that can increase the likelihood of developing the condition. Asthma can develop at any age, including young children and the elderly.
There is currently no cure for asthma. However, the condition can be safely and effectively managed through widely available treatments.
It is important to consult with a doctor or asthma nurse to ensure the right treatment and techniques are being used. By adopting good habits and taking the medication as directed, the full benefits can be felt.
It is considered safe to breastfeed whilst taking asthma medication as only trace amounts of the medicine will pass into the breast milk. These amounts pose no risk to your baby. Also, medicines prescribed for asthma do not affect the body's ability to produce breast milk.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding can help lower the risk of your baby developing asthma. If however, breastfeeding is not a suitable option, this does not mean your baby will develop the condition. Speak to your midwife or health adviser about which formula is the most suitable for you.
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