What is Asthma?
Asthma is a common lung condition that affects your ability to breathe normally. It may occur randomly or be triggered by exposure to things such as dust or smoke. While it is incurable, there are many effective treatments to keep your symptoms at bay.
Visit our Asthma guides section for more detailed information relating to asthma and the different types of asthma inhalers.
Asthma Symptoms and Warning Signs
Generally, the most common symptoms of asthma are the same regardless of your gender or age.
Common Asthma Symptoms
- Breathlessness/shortness of breath
- A tight chest
Common Asthma Attack Symptoms
- Breathlessness/shortness of breath that stops you sleeping, eating or speaking
- A tight chest that is constant and severe
- Coughing that is constant and severe
- Wheezing that is constant and severe
- Fast heartbeat, or breathing fast
- Feeling dizzy, exhausted, drowsy, confused or faint
- Lips or fingers that turn blue
3 people die every day in the UK as the result of an asthma attack. If you feel that you may be having an asthma attack you should use your blue inhaler immediately and call an abulance.
Asthma in women
While asthma is more common in young boys than girls, once adulthood arrives it impacts more women than men. It is thought that female hormones are the reason for this. Some women find that their symptoms worsen around the time of their period. Having an action plan and keeping a symptom diary can help manage this.
Asthma Risks and Complications
Asthma is a very common condition and can affect individuals of a variety of ages. Asthma is usually kept under control with the correct use of inhalers and medications. However in cases where individuals are suffering from more serious side effects it is important to follow your treatment plan in order to stay on top of your symptoms especially those that are prescribed a preventer inhaler to be used on a daily basis.
Failure to control your asthma and neglect your treatment plan can increase the risk of developing other medical conditions such as:
- Feeling lethargic at work or school resulting in underperformance
- Anxiety which can also lead to chronic stress and depression
- Lung infections such as pneumonia
- Stunted growth and delayed puberty in children
- Unable to participate in leisure activities or sport due to symptoms persisting
- Increased risk of suffering from a severe asthma attack
COPD Risks and Complications
COPD if not treated correctly can cause a number of complications such as:
- Respiratory Infections - People who have COPD are more vulnerable to catch common colds, the flue and even Pneumonia. As many common colds and the flue can affect breathing in people without COPD, people with the condition will need to provide extra care and attention. An annual flu vaccination is recommended.
- Heart Complications - COPD can increase the risk of developing a number of heart diseases such as heart attack.
- High Blood Pressure - COPD can put extra strain on your arteries that bring blood to your lungs, this can lead to a higher than normal blood pressure.
- Lung Cancer
- Depression - Breathing difficulties can be frustrating, especially if it prevents you from doing activities that you enjoy.
Asthma triggers and causes
Asthma can be triggered by a number of things, from pollen triggers, to dust or even cold weather. Every individual who sufferes form Asthma may find that their symptoms worsen under certain conditions.
Getting An Asthma Test
If you are concerned that you have asthma, it is important to get to a doctor as soon as possible. If you’re looking to buy asthma inhalers online, fill out a Medicine Direct health questionnaire here. This will be passed to one of our doctors, who will assess your symptom and prescribe the right course of treatment for you.
The Asthma UK website covers information on how asthma is diagnosed by your doctor.
What Medicine Direct can offer for Asthma
Medicine Direct offers a variety of different inhalers to suit your exact needs. This includes reliever inhalers to calm symptoms when they occur, and preventer inhalers to stop symptoms developing. We also offer combination inhalers, which combine both of the above effects in one.
Although an incurable condition, asthma has several very effective treatments. This means that symptoms can generally be kept at bay and managed if breathing problems or attacks do occur.
For most people, two inhalers are prescribed. One is a blue inhaler, which relieves symptoms, the other is a brown inhaler which prevents them. Combination inhalers also exist. These are small devices that allow you to breathe medicine in so that it reaches the important places - your airways and lungs.
When used daily, the clenil modulite brown preventer inhaler will make your airways less sensitive and therefore less likely to react to things that can trigger your asthma. This leads to fewer and less severe symptoms. As the protective properties of this inhaler build up over time, it may be that a doctor advises you take this inhaler twice a day, usually once in the morning and once in the evening. This applies even if your symptoms stay at bay and you feel fine.
The reliever inhaler, on the other hand, is for when an asthma attack actually occurs. It acts immediately to relax the muscles around the airways. This allows your airways to open wider, making breathing easier and eventually bringing the asthma attack to an end.
For COPD the most commonly prescribed inhaler is Salbutamol, sold under the brand name Ventolin. COPD is considered to be a preventable condition whereas asthma can not be cured, however its symptoms can be controlled.
Preventer inhalers are used every day in order to prevent asthma symptoms occurring. A preventer inhaler works by preventing inflammation and swelling of the airways allowing air to pass through freely and unrestricted.
By preventing inflammation and swelling of the airways it also allows the medication contained within the inhaler to access the airways and gets to work exactly where it is needed.
As preventer inhalers will prevent asthma symptoms occurring, this also reduces the likelihood of needing to use a reliever inhaler as often due to the fact that symptoms may not occur as frequent.
If you have been prescribed with a preventer inhaler, it is important to remember to take your inhaler on a daily basis in order to get the full benefits of the medication. We recommend taking your inhaler in the morning and evening, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.
Preventer inhalers will also build up protection and resistance to certain asthma symptoms which is also why it is important to take your inhaler daily when prescribed.
There are many different types of preventer inhalers, the most commonly prescribed ones are, Clenil Modulite and Flixotide
Reliever inhalers are usually blue in colour and are the most commonly used type of asthma inhaler in the UK. Anyone that has previously been diagnosed with asthma or COPD will be prescribed a blue reliever inhaler such as Ventolin which is to be used whenever you start to experience symptoms.
Reliever inhalers are used to relieve the symptoms of asthma such as an asthma attack. A reliever inhaler works by getting medication directly to your lungs causing the muscles surrounding the airways to relax. As a result, the airways become wider allowing air to pass through them more freely.
For individuals that only experience mild symptoms, for example when their symptoms are brought on by a known asthma trigger, a reliever inhaler is the ideal type of inhaler as this can be taken when you start to experience the symptoms.
However for individuals that find they have to use their reliever inhaler quite often, for example more than three times per week, your GP may choose to prescribe a preventer inhaler to work alongside your reliever inhaler.
There are many different types of reliever inhalers, the most common ones are, Ventolin and Salamol
What is the difference between a reliever and Preventer inhaler?
Although reliever and preventer inhalers are intended to be used in the treatment of Asthma and COPD they are very different when it comes to how they work. Below we have created a quick summary on the differences between Reliever and Preventer Inhalers.
|Reliever Inhaler||Preventer Inhaler|
|Drug Type||Fast acting bronchodilators||Corticosteroid|
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI's)
Breath Actuated Inhalers (BAI's)
Dry Powder Inhalers (DPI's)
|When to use||
Used during sudden and unexpected asthma attacks or episodes of breathlessness
|Daily, morning and evening|
|How do they work||
Treats asthma symptoms quickly. Provides fast acting relief during an asthma attack.
|Prevents inflammation and swelling of the airways|
Treatment Length for Asthma
As asthma is incurable, it is a lifelong condition. If you have asthma, you should always carry any and all prescribed inhalers with you just in case you need them. However, the frequency you need to use them will vary from person to person. Some people do not need to use an inhaler regularly and can just use them when attacks occur. For others, it may be necessary to take your preventer inhaler one a basis for an extended period.
You can buy various asthma inhalers at Medicine Direct, including Ventolin, Salamol, Flixotide, Clenil Modulite, Atrovent, Bricantly and Seretide.
Our pharmacists and prescribers follow NICE guidelines when prescribing Asthma Inhalers.
Frequently Asked Questions
COPD is the name for a group of lung related conditions that primarily cause breathing difficulties.
COPD essentially consists of two separate conditions:
COPD is a very common condition, however unlike asthma; this tends to affect mainly middle aged individuals.
Medicine Direct have an experienced clinical team of doctors, pharmacists and dispensers, all of whom are based in the UK. All are fully trained and qualified to provide appropriate and considered care across all areas of treatment we have available at our online pharmacy.
This means that no matter which member of our team is assigned to your case, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of a highly skilled medical professional, who possesses the compassion and clinical expertise to properly advise you on the best course of treatment.
We are fully regulated
All of our doctors and pharmacists are fully registered with both the General Medical Council (GMC), MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Each member of our team has also worked in various clinic settings in the past, such as community pharmacies and NHS hospitals.