It’s important to note that there are many triggers for asthma symptoms and attacks. Therefore, it is crucial to determine your triggers – there may be more than one.
Table of Contents
Common asthma triggers include:
How to recognise if your asthma is getting worse?
People living with allergies and asthma need to be aware that their asthma attacks can be very severe and come on very quickly, especially when they are exposed to their trigger allergen.
Worsening symptoms of asthma can include;
- Return of symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest
- Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise
- Starting to wake at night with asthma symptoms
- Symptoms interfering with the usual day-to-day activities
- Reduced peak flow measurements
- If you need to use your reliever inhaler more than three times a week
If these symptoms start to develop, it is important to arrange an appointment to see your GP or nurse for an asthma review.
URGENT if the following occur
- If you are finding it difficult to breathe, walk or talk
- The reliever inhaler is not helping, or you need it more than every four hours
- Wheezing a lot, very tight chest or coughing a lot
- You are becoming exhausted by the effort of breathing
- You need to seek immediate medical advice and call 999 for an ambulance
Treating Asthma: Medication
Everyone with asthma should have an asthma action plan, especially if they need to use an inhaler.
There are many types of inhalers containing measured doses of different medications to treat asthma. The two main types of inhalers are called preventers and relievers. There are also combination inhalers which contain both a long-acting reliever and a steroid preventer. You must be shown how to correctly use the type of inhaler prescribed for you.
Reliever inhalers are used as and when asthma symptoms are experienced. Everyone with asthma needs to have a reliever inhaler prescribed. They work by relaxing the muscles in the airways so that you can breathe more easily when you have asthma symptoms. However, if you use this type of inhaler regularly (more than 3 times a week), it means your asthma is not controlled, and you need to seek advice from your Asthma Nurse or GP.
Preventer inhalers contain a low-dose corticosteroid medicine which works by reducing swelling and inflammation in the airways. They should be taken as prescribed daily, even when you have no symptoms, to build up a protective effect and help prevent asthma symptoms.
If you have an MDI or metered dose inhaler, using a spacer (a holding chamber that fits on the end of the inhaler) is an effective way of ensuring your asthma medication reaches the right place with the correct dose. The use of a spacer is recommended as part of your asthma management. This is because the press and breathe actions are important for effectively using an inhaler.
Some asthma devices, such as a breath-activated inhaler or dry powder device, do not need to be used through a spacer device.
Asthma medication is only effective if taken correctly and as prescribed. When you see your GP, Asthma Nurse or Pharmacist, ask for a review of your inhaler technique (even if you have been using your inhaler for a long time, it may only be as effective if your inhaler technique is good).
Please seek medical advice if you have any questions or concerns about your asthma.