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The majority of us know what asthma is and may even know someone with the condition but how many of us understand the risks and implications of not managing the condition?

Recent news (The Times, 4th Nov) highlighted just how important managing asthma is, after figures have shown last year 1,255 people in the UK died of asthma, which is a rise of 11% since 2009 and is the highest it’s been in almost a decade.

So how can the issue be tackled?

One encouraging step has been the Government’s recent announced that as of October this year (2014) all schools in England will be allowed to hold salbutamol inhalers for use in emergency situations.

As well as supporting those living with asthma in emergency situations, ongoing management of the condition is crucial and holds the answer to preventing hundreds of deaths every year.

Here are my tips for managing asthma:

Get the maximum benefit from your medicines – make sure you use your inhalers and medicines as directed by your doctor.

Understand how inhaler medicines works and to use your inhalers correctly
• Reliever inhalers (usually blue) are used to quickly relieve the feeling of breathlessness and are not commonly used on a regular basis.
• Preventer inhalers work by controlling the swelling and inflammation of the airways. It takes time for the protective action to build up so you must make sure you use your preventer regularly, even when you’re feeling well.
• Your inhalation technique should be appropriate for the inhaler type otherwise you may only get a fraction of the amount of medicine in your lungs where it is needed. Speak to your LloydsPharmacy to check your inhaler technique.

Make sure you have an up to date action plan – If you don’t, ask your doctor or practice nurse for one. This will tell you what to do to feel better if you asthma gets worse, such as doubling up on preventer inhaler doses.

Understand your peak flow meter reading – If you use a peak flow meter, you need to know what good and bad readings are for you. So record your results in a diary and take it with you to any reviews you have.

Always carry your reliever inhaler – It pays to have it on hand if you need it. It is better to use it at the first signs of wheezing than to wait for your breathing to get really bad.

It’s also important to understand the triggers of asthma. A ‘trigger’ is anything that causes the symptoms of asthma and remember triggers can be different for different people.

Click here to find out more about the most common triggers and how to avoid them.

At LloydsPharmacy we offer a FREE asthma control test where one of our healthcare team can discuss how to use your inhalers to make sure you are getting the most benefit from your medication. Our pharmacists are experts in medicines and can also advice on your asthma and other medicines as part of medicines check-up.

To find your nearest LloydsPharmacy visit our store locator.