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What is an asthma preventer?

What is an asthma preventer?

What are preventers?

Preventers are a type of asthma inhaler, usually brown, purple, red or orange in colour. They are used by people who need regular treatment for their asthma and are usually used if you are having to use your Ventolin inhaler more than once or twice a week. They are most effective when used twice a day, every day (in the morning and the evening) although the dose varies from person to person.

All preventer inhalers contain a steroid, which helps to ease your breathing by reducing the inflammation and mucus production in your lungs. When inflammation is reduced, the airways are much less likely to become narrow and cause symptoms such as wheezing.

Unlike reliever inhalers (such as Ventolin), which help treat the symptoms of an asthma attack that has already started, preventers are used to stop an attack from happening before your lungs have a chance to become inflamed.

What types of asthma preventer are there?

There are several different types of preventer inhaler. Clenil is the most common preventer, and others include Qvar, Flixotide and Pulmicort. There are also combination inhalers available, such as Seretide and Symbicort, which contain a preventer and a symptom reliever. These are usually prescribed in cases where a preventer inhaler has proved insufficient.

The specific medicines used in each product are similar, as is their function, but they differ in design and medicine strength. Your online doctor or GP will judge which one is best for you.

How do asthma preventers work (and do I still need a reliever)?

Asthma preventers work by reducing inflammation in the airways of your lungs. This means you are less likely to develop asthma symptoms.
Airway Inflammation - How Do Asthma Preventers Work - Picture

Since preventers are not fast-acting, they will not provide any immediate relief from symptoms. If you find yourself suffering from an exacerbation of your asthma symptoms, or in the event of an asthma attack, you will need to take your Ventolin reliever inhaler as prescribed by your doctor. If Ventolin is ineffective then you should contact your GP. In an emergency call an ambulance.

Both preventers and relievers can be ordered safely and securely from our online clinic.

How effective are asthma preventers?

Regular use of a preventer inhaler is highly effective in helping to reduce the number of attacks an asthma sufferer will have. While asthma medicines do not provide a cure they are very effective at controlling your symptoms, and continued use will significantly lower your chances of suffering a serious asthma attack. However, the protective effect must build up over time, so it is important to ensure you continue to take your preventer as prescribed by your doctor, even on days when you feel fine.

You may be able to reduce the dose or frequency of your preventer if you have no symptoms but this should only be done in conjunction with your GP.

Do I need an asthma preventer?

If you have asthma and find yourself needing to use your Ventolin reliever more than once a week, this suggests that Ventolin alone is insufficient in managing your condition. In these cases, it is likely that you will need a preventer inhaler in addition to Ventolin.

If your breathlessness is severe please attend your local A&E department straight away.

How should I use my asthma preventer?

You should continue to use your preventer inhaler as advised by your regular doctor.

Over 50% of asthma sufferers currently use their inhaler incorrectly. If you are uncertain about the correct inhaler technique, you can ask your local pharmacist to demonstrate it, or click here to view our video guide.

What are the side effects of asthma preventers?

Most patients do not experience side effects from their preventer inhaler since the inhaled steroid travels directly to the airways as needed, and so very little is absorbed into the rest of the body.

However, there is a very small risk of mouth irritation for some people who use preventer medicines, including:

- sore tongue
- sore throat
- hoarseness of the voice
- thrush infection in the mouth

You can help prevent these side effects by rinsing out your mouth or brushing your teeth after using your preventer inhaler. Using an Aerochamber can also help prevent thrush.

For a full list of side effects please take time to read the manufacturer’s product information leaflet that accompanies your medicine.

Will my asthma preventer interact with other medicine?

If you start taking any new medicines while using your preventer inhaler then please seek guidance from us via your Patient Record. Alternatively your GP or the doctor who prescribes a new medicine for you should be able to advise you.

How we can help

If you have previously been prescribed preventers or other asthma inhalers, you can order further inhalers from our website.