Asthma is a common condition in which the airways to the lungs narrow, swell and produce extra mucus which causes breathing difficulties. Symptoms include: breathlessness, coughing, tightening of the chest and wheezing. Doctors at NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) would like to remind residents about the symptoms of asthma and what to do to manage this condition.
Dr Stuart Berry, GP lead for respiratory conditions at the CCGs said:
“People who use inhalers often notice that the cold weather makes their condition worse. They may notice that they are coughing more, have more wheezing or are getting out of breath more easily.
“If this is happening to you and your inhalers are not helping, please contact your GP practice and ask for an appointment with the asthma nurse or GP. We ask that you bring all your inhalers & spacers if you have them with you to your appointments as we need to check that you are able to get the most out of them. Some are harder to use than others so it’s important that we know you can use them well.
“If you have symptoms, but are having problems making an appointment for a review at your GP practice, telephone 111.
“We recommend that everyone who uses inhalers has a review with their practice at least once a year.”
There are a number of things you can do to help manage your asthma during cold weather:
- Make sure you have enough medication and keep your inhaler with you at all times
- If you go out, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to stop the cold air going in your lungs and tightening your airways
- Make sure you attend your regular review or if you find that you are having to increase your inhaler use, contact your GP practice to ask for a medication review
- Get your flu vaccination if you haven’t already – it isn’t too late
- Have a plan about what to do if you need to use your blue inhaler 3 or more times per week. If this is happening it means that your airways are swelling up and there is a risk of having a serious asthma attack. Ask your asthma nurse for an asthma action plan
“Dr Berry added:
If you have a child who is asthmatic it is very important that you maintain good contact with your child’s clinician. Also be vigilant to your child’s early warning signs of asthma and know your child’s asthma triggers. Make sure they take control but with your help and that they take their medication regularly.
“If you find that you can’t get your breathing, or your child’s breathing under control and you are struggling, do not hesitate to ring 999.”
There are 2 websites which are recommended for people who use inhalers;
Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation both have free telephone advice helplines available:
Asthma UK: 0300 222 5800
British Lung Foundation: 03000 030 555
The Asthma UK website has some really good tips for staying well over winter. Please take a look at their site. https://www.asthma.org.uk/
British Lung Foundation https://www.blf.org.uk/
For more information go online to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/