Asthma & its symptoms
Asthma is a common respiratory condition. It's caused by inflammation in the lungs, particularly in the smaller airways (bronchioles) and air sacs (alveoli). It can develop at any age from birth.
Symptoms may be constant or come and go, varying in severity over time. They can include shortness of breath, chest tightness and a whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out. In some cases, a sudden onset severe symptoms can lead to asthma attacks, which can be life-threatening.
Asthma causes & triggers
Asthma can run in families and although no clear cause has been established, genetics, pollution and modern hygiene standards have been suggested to play a role. Asthma triggers include dust mites, pollen, cold weather and exercise – these make asthma symptoms worse.
Asthma treatment & prevention
There is no cure for asthma, but with treatment it can be managed and the symptoms can be controlled. Identify and avoid your asthma triggers, get vaccinated for flu, monitor your breathing and ensure you have the correct inhalers.
A daily preventer inhaler can manage symptoms, while a reliever inhaler can be used if your asthma flares up or you feel an asthma attack coming on. Inhalers must be used as prescribed, according to the action plan agreed with your doctor.
Types of inhalers
The typical medication for people with asthma are a reliever inhaler and a preventer inhaler.
A reliever inhaler is a short-acting medicine that treats asthma symptoms during a flare up when you’re wheezing, coughing or feel short of breath.
A preventer inhaler is used every day even if you’re not experiencing asthma symptoms. They work to soothe the airways and the benefits build up over time.
Our asthma clinic
You can order Ventolin reliever inhalers (containing salbutamol), which are designed to help during asthma attacks by opening your airways. You can also order preventer inhalers (to be used every day to help prevent asthma attacks).
When you request a prescription, we'll ask you a series of questions as part of our online consultation. Your answers will be reviewed to ensure that the medicine and dose we prescribe is safe and suitable for you to take. Inhalers are available for delivery or convenient ParcelShop collection.
Please note we are unable to help you in an emergency. If you are short of breath, or require urgent assistance please call 999 or NHS 111.
Doctor's asthma advice
Despite asthma being a long-term condition, you should be able to continue your day-to-day life without any restrictions. If you are experiencing regular or troublesome symptoms, do not ignore them.
Your doctor will give you a Personal Action Plan (PAP). Ask for help from us via your Patient Record, your asthma nurse or GP if you cannot control your symptoms. The severity and triggers of your asthma can vary – adjusting treatment is very common an can be effective in keeping your asthma under control.
Preventing & treating an asthma attack
Prevent an asthma attack before it happens by identifying your triggers, seeing your doctor or asthma nurse if your symptoms are not fully controlled, and taking your asthma medication as prescribed.
If you feel an asthma attack coming on: sit upright and try to breath slowly and steadily. Use your reliever inhaler (usually blue) as prescribed. Stay calm and repeat as directed. If the symptoms do not ease, call 999 or NHS 111. An asthma attack can be an emergency, so don't worry about calling for help.
Correct inhaler use
Using your inhaler correctly ensures you receive the correct amount of medicine and treatment. Check the information leaflet it comes with, or the directions on our site. You can even practice the actions with the mouthpiece on to get a feel for it.
You can also go in-store to any LloydsPharmacy for an inhaler check. Our colleagues will talk you through the right way to use your inhaler.
Asthma & pregnancy
We cannot prescribe asthma treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You should see your GP to discuss.
This is because during pregnancy your asthma should be closely monitored so that any changes needed can be made quickly. Some women find their asthma improves while pregnant, but others experience worse symptoms. Inhalers are generally believed to be safe to use while pregnant, but you should always check with your GP or asthma nurse.
Disposing of your inhalers
The propellants in commonly used inhalers are powerful greenhouse gases. Because of this, you should not throw inhalers into your bins at home - including your recycling bin. Landfill disposal of inhalers is harmful to the environment due to the residual gas from the canister being released into the atmosphere.
If you can, please return used inhalers to the pharmacy for safe disposal. Inhalers returned to the pharmacy are treated to destroy harmful gases.
Worried about asthma and coronavirus?
Please head to the Asthma UK coronavirus (COVID-19) pages, where you find helpful information on reducing risks of asthma symptoms, thinking ahead, what to do if you’re feeling anxious about your asthma and what to do if your asthma gets worse.