I was diagnosed with asthma when I was around 20, something I didn’t really believe for many years after as I never really got asthma attacks, nor had difficulty breathing (unless I was running up any hill, which is pretty normal).
To be safe, I used to use a blue inhaler before runs and exercise, and sometimes during the day. A few years ago husband, an asthmatic since he was a baby, encouraged me to go to pulmonologist (lung specialist) just for a checkup and to see if maybe I needed daily meds to manage my asthma (“What asthma?” I asked him. “I’m pretty sure the doctor is going to tell me I don’t really have it”.
I had a lung function test among other checks, and I was told three things:
- I did indeed have asthma
- I needed a long-term anti-inflammatory inhaler, and not a blue reliever inhaler, which was to be used for immediate/quick relief as and when needed
- My lungs showed no damage after several years of smoking as a teen and early 20-something (I’m obviously grateful that my stupidity had no later consequences).
It turns out that the over-reliance on reliever pumps has been linked to an increased use of asthma attacks, which is why my doctor advised me against it. A reliever inhaler opens up the airways to provide quick and temporary relief, but it can mask the worsening of symptoms and increase the risk of asthma attacks. Just three or more puffs of a blue inhaler a week is a red flag and this increases your risk of asthma attacks.
As a result of this finding, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) recommends that instead of the blue reliever inhalers, one should use anti-inflammatory maintenance medication. South Africa’s prevalence of asthma is among the highest in the world and is ranked fifth for asthma mortality, so it seems there’s a need for change.
Are you or someone you know overusing your inhaler?
If you want to check your usage and reliance on blue inhalers, you can take the Reliever Reliance Test. It’s an evidence-based questionnaire that checks how dependent you are on asthma relief.
It’s easy to do and you can understand if you’re relying too heavily on relief inhalers. If the results show that you’re over-reliant, then that information can help your doctor between manage your asthma care.
For more information about the Break Over-Reliance campaign and to take the Reliever Reliance Test, visit http://bit.ly/Yes2Breathe
For more info on the campaign, you can go to the Facebook page here.
If you’d like to watch a really useful video with expert advice from a doctor, click here:
All information via AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals