Research carried out by hmR Ireland, which looks at the over-reliance on reliever inhaler medication by people with asthma in Ireland.
Reliever inhalers (which most people recognise as the blue inhalers) if over-used, are strongly linked with severe asthma exacerbations and asthma related deaths
What is an Asthma Exacerbation?
An asthma exacerbation is an episode of progressive worsening of symptoms of asthma, including shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and chest tightness and it can progress to a severe asthma attack.
Do you know … if you uses three or more reliever inhalers a year, it is an indication that you are at risk of a severe asthma exacerbation. While the use of twelve or more a year is an indication that you are at risk of an asthma-related death, according to the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), (a body tasked with evidence-based strategy for asthma management working to improve the lives of people with asthma in every corner of the globe.)
hmR Ireland worked with 70% of Irish pharmacies in 2019, conducting research on asthma medication usage trends, using anonymised patient transactional dispensing data.
The Health Market Research results found:
- Three in ten use more than twelve reliever inhalers a year, putting them at risk of an asthma-related death
- Seven in ten people are using more than three reliever inhalers a year, putting them at risk of an asthma attack (or some form of asthma exacerbation)
- Within five years of diagnosis, half the asthma population are over-reliant on their reliever inhaler
- In the year after diagnosis, 30% children aged 0-17 are overusing their reliever inhaler
- In the year after diagnosis, 60% people aged 50 or over are overusing their reliever inhaler
The Asthma Society is calling on all people who are over-reliant on their reliever inhaler to act now to get their asthma in control.
People with asthma should take the following actions:
- Download an Asthma Action Plan from asthma.ie
- Complete your Asthma Action Plan with your healthcare professional and speak specifically about your asthma medications
- Call the Asthma Society’s free Asthma and COPD Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 to help you understand asthma, its triggers and how to manage it, and to better understand your asthma control
The HMR Research also revealed:
- In the initial year of diagnosis, one in five people overuse their reliever inhaler.
- In the first year after diagnosis, there is: a 6% increase in the number of people using 12 or more reliever inhaler a year (2% to 8%) and a 17% increase in the number of people using three or more reliever inhalers per year (16% to 33%). There is a corresponding drop of 23% of people using two or less (considered the appropriate amount) reliever inhalers per year (82% to 59%).
- In the year after diagnosis the following numbers of people over-use their reliever inhaler: three out of 10 people aged 0-7, three out of ten people aged 7-17, two out of five people aged 18-32, half the people aged 31-50, and three out of five people aged over 50.
For anyone with asthma, or for anyone who cares for someone with asthma who would like to speak to someone about their inhaler usage, The Asthma Society of Ireland runs a free Asthma and COPD Adviceline. Users of the service can speak to a respiratory specialist nurse who will work with them to assess if they are overusing their reliever medication and review their asthma control.The free Asthma and COPD Adviceline is available on 1800 44 54 64.
#MyAsthmaStory: Ingrid McLoughlin
Ingrid McLoughlin from Howth had a very hard time for two years because of her asthma. She was completely reliant on her reliever inhaler to stay alive.
After changing Ingrid’s medication, she is now in a much better place in life. She is a happy girl who loves to run and dance. If you are using more than three reliever inhalers a year, you are over reliant and you need to seek help: