MORE than a million Brits are at risk of a deadly asthma attack – because they’re using inhalers wrong, experts claim.
The number of fatal attacks has increased by 20 per cent in the last five years, meaning the UK now has one of the worst death rates from the lung condition in Europe.
Getty – Contributor More than a million asthma sufferers are using their inhalers wrong, a new study has claimed
A new report by Asthma UK has revealed that more than half of sufferers aren’t using inhalers properly.
It means that the full dose of medicine can’t get into the lungs, where it is needed to protect them from a life-threatening asthma attack.
Instead it stays in the mouth or the back of the throat, which can also make people more likely to experience side effects such as oral thrush.
The charity also found that nearly one in five people aren’t getting their inhaler technique checked, despite national guidelines stating that this should happen during a yearly review.
‘Gasping for breath’
Paul Wilson, 44, from Glasgow, ended up in hospital 48 times because of his asthma and had to be resuscitated on 25 occasions.
He missed out on vital inhaler technique checks with his GP because he missed his yearly asthma reviews.
He said: “I’ve been rushed to hospital countless times with my asthma, and been put on drips, nebulisers, and even ended up in intensive care.
“But I’d never really given too much thought on how to manage my asthma or use my inhaler properly. Looking back, I was just taking a puff and hoping for the best.
“My symptoms were getting so severe that it got to the point where I was having an asthma attack every week.
Looking back, I was just taking a puff and hoping for the bestPaul Wilsonasthma sufferer
“I would wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest.
“I realised I needed help and booked an appointment with my asthma nurse for a medication review.
“They said the way I was using my inhaler meant that only 10-20% of the medicine was getting into my lungs.
“They showed me the correct inhaler technique and gave me a spacer to use, and the difference it has made to my asthma is incredible – I even ran the London Marathon for Asthma UK last year.
“I never thought that something so simple could completely turn my life around.”Technique check
Asthma UK has called on doctors, asthma nurses and pharmacist to help patients by supporting them with their technique after a separate study found that 9 in 10 healthcare professionals did not know to demonstrate the use of an inhaler.
Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP, said: “Inhalers are the bread-and-butter treatment for most people with asthma, so it’s really worrying that many people are not taking them properly, or getting their technique checked by their GP or asthma nurse.
“With so many different types of inhaler which are all used in different ways, it can be difficult for patients and healthcare professionals to know the correct way to use them.
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“It’s also easy for patients to get into bad habits or simply forget the best technique following their appointment, especially if they have a new type of inhaler.
“But even a small tweak to how someone uses their inhaler can make a huge difference and could prevent them having a life-threatening asthma attack.
“We’re urging people with asthma and healthcare professionals to watch Asthma UK’s videos so they feel confident in how people can use their inhalers to stay well.”
Asthma UK Paul Wilson admitted he wasn’t using his inhaler properly and had to be resuscitated on 25 occasions
Asthma sufferers urged to check for faulty inhalers ‘putting thousands of lives at risk’
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