What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. The airways become over-sensitive which results in their reaction to otherwise harmless things, such as cold air or dust. The muscles around the airway tighten causing it to narrow, making it difficult for air to flow.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

  • Difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath.
  • A tight feeling in the chest.
  • Wheezing (a whistling noise in the chest).
  • Coughing - hoarse, particularly at night.

How can you treat asthma?

There are various treatments and medicines available for treating asthma. There are either relievers, which work to relieve your symptoms when they happen, or there are preventers, which help to control your symptoms and prevent them happening.

The majority of people with asthma are prescribed a daily preventer inhaler to protect against an asthma attack and a reliever inhaler to use when symptoms occur. It is extremely important that preventer medication is taken as prescribed and even when asthma symptoms are not present.

Top 10 inhaler tips from the Asthma Society of Ireland

  1. Talk to your healthcare professional about your medication and device technique. Ask them which inhaler to use first and how long to wait between each inhalation
  2. Clarify medication dose, when to take your inhaler and what to do if breathing symptoms deteriorate
  3. Talk to them about the importance of checking inhaler technique REGULARLY
  4. Discuss how and when to clean the device
  5. Consider expiry dates of the device. Ask them if your device is reusable; if there is a discard date and how to discard the device.
  6. Discuss safe storage and disposal of the device
  7. Ask them how to prime the device
  8. Ask what to do if your device malfunctions
  9. Discuss the signs for an empty device and when it needs to be replaced
  10. Ask them for patient information, Asthma Society resources or for a referral if necessary.


Article sourced from Asthma Society of Ireland – See original article here

Some information and facts about Asthma

No one knows exactly what causes asthma. What we do know is:

  • Anyone can develop asthma. It is very common in Ireland, where over 470,000 adults and children have asthma.
  • It can start at any time of life, although it most often begins in childhood.
  • Sometimes it affects several family members e.g. if you have parents or brothers and sisters with asthma or allergy (e.g. Eczema or hay fever) you are more likely to have it yourself.
  • Conditions like hay-fever, eczema, or hives, which are usually the result of allergy, may occur along with Asthma.
  • Adult onset asthma may develop after a respiratory tract infection. Many aspects of modern lifestyles such as changes in housing, diet and a more sterile home environment may have contributed to the rise in asthma over the last few decades
  • Asthma is not infectious.
  • Smoking during pregnancy or exposing a child to tobacco smoke will increase their risk of developing asthma.
  • Being overweight increases the risk of developing asthma.
  • Some children lose their symptoms as they grow older but asthma is a chronic disease so it never goes away and symptoms can come back later in life.

When properly managed, most people can live symptom-free lives. We encourage everyone with asthma, or those with concerns for a loved one, to drop in to your local LloydsPharmacy at any time for general asthma advice from a LloydsPharmacy pharmacist. All asthmatics should visit their pharmacist at least twice a year to review their asthma management and more frequently if their control is poor.

References:
* The Asthma Society of Ireland
*HSE

Allergies

Allergies are very common in Ireland, with symptoms making it difficult and uncomfortable to maintain our normal daily schedules. Our expert colleagues are here to offer support, guidance and advice on how you and your loved ones can manage these symptoms.

Where do allergies come from?

Allergies are caused by the body reacting to an allergen as though it is harmful, like the way it would react to an infection. Your body produces a type of antibody to fight off the allergens and one of the chemicals involved in this allergic reaction is called histamine. Some people are more likely to develop an allergy because it runs in their family and environmental factors also play a part.

What are the most common allergens?

  • House dust mites
  • Grass and tree pollens
  • Pet hair or skin flakes
  • Fungal or mould spores
  • Food (particularly milk, eggs, wheat, soya, seafood, fruit and nuts)
  • Wasp and bee stings
  • Certain medication, such as penicillin and aspirin
  • Latex
  • Household chemicals

How can you prevent allergies, both inside and outside?

1. Regularly clean and dust your house

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen that causes it. This is not always easy. Allergens such as dust mites or fungal spores can be hard to spot and can breed in even the cleanest house. Vacuum regularly and wipe down any hard surfaces that collects dust with a damp cloth.

2. Try limit amount of space pets are in

If you live with pets and find that you are reacting more than usual to them as you spend more time indoors, try to set limitations. Keep your bedroom a pet free zone. Wash pet beds and clean out cages regularly. Vacuum carpets and rugs to prevent a build-up of allergens. Groom your dogs and cats to reduce shedding. 

3. Make sure your home isn’t damp

Spores are released from moulds when there is a sudden rise in temperature in a moist environment, such as when central heating is turned on in a damp house, or someone dries wet clothes next to a fireplace. Keep your home dry and well ventilated. When showering or cooking, keep internal doors closed to prevent damp air from spreading through the house and use extractor fans.

4. Monitor your diet

Many of us are experimenting in the kitchen this week. Remember to keep an eye on any food allergies people in your household may suffer from and keep these in mind when cooking. The most common food allergies are caused by crustaceans, dairy and nuts.

What is a house dust mite allergy?

This is a very common allergy that occurs all year round. House dust mites are found all over the house but especially in the bed, as they favour moist, warm conditions. It’s estimated that over two million house dust mites live in a double bed at any one time. House dust mites cause allergic reactions such as allergic dermatitis and allergic asthma.

What are the main symptoms of allergic dermatitis?
  • Rash
  • Itchy skin
What are the main symptoms of allergic asthma?
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath, tightness in chest
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny nose
How can you prevent house dust mite allergies?
  • Encase the mattress in an anti-allergy mattress cover
  • Wash all bedding at over 60 degrees
  • Avoid padded headboards where dust mites can breed
  • Wipe down your bed heads with a damp cloth

Hay fever

Hayfever is very common in Ireland, with up to 80% of people who have asthma also have this condition. Our expert colleagues are here to offer support, guidance and advice on how you and your loved ones can help treat hay fever.

What is Hay fever?

Hayfever, also known as pollen allergies, is very common and is caused when plants release pollen particles into the air (pollinate). Different plants pollinate at different times of the year, so the months that you get hay fever will depend on what sort of pollen(s) you are allergic to. Typically, people are affected during spring and summer.

What are the main symptoms of hay fever?
  • Runny nose
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
What are the common hay fever triggers?
  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Flower pollen
  • Fungi spores
  • Wood pollen
How can you avoid hay fever?
  • Keep an eye on weather reports for the pollen count and stay indoors when it is high.
  • Keep your doors and windows shut during mid-morning and early evening, when there is most pollen in the air.
  • Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after being outside.
  • Avoid grassy areas, such as parks and fields.
  • Get someone else to cut the grass for you if you have a lawn.

Our highly trained colleagues are here to help and can offer advice and suggest the best products to help you manage your allergies, whether you are looking for antihistamines or other medicines such as eye drops and nasal sprays. We highly recommend consulting your pharmacist before choosing an allergy product.

References:
* The Asthma Society of Ireland
*HSE