Are you getting the care you need to control your asthma?

A report by Asthma UK suggests two thirds of people are still not receiving the basic care they need to manage their asthma.

The charity’s Annual Asthma Survey Report claims seven out of 10 people with asthma who end up in hospital aren’t given a follow-up appointment with a GP or nurse. Having this follow-up visit is essential, says Asthma UK, as it helps prevent many people from being readmitted to hospital.

Forty-two percent of people with asthma who took part in the survey said they’d received an asthma action plan in 2016. And while this is an improvement on the year before (36 percent), it still leaves a large number of people without a written asthma action plan. According to Asthma UK, not having such a plan makes you four times more likely to end up in hospital with an asthma attack.

The report also found there are wide variations in the level of care in different parts of the country. Northern Ireland was the highest performing area of the UK for the provision of basic asthma care, with nearly half of NI respondents saying they’d received adequate care. But only 28 percent of asthma in London said they received basic asthma care, the lowest in the UK.

“Good asthma care means having a thorough asthma review, being on the right medication, knowing how to use your inhaler correctly and having a written asthma action plan,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s clinical lead and in-house GP.

“It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis, because every person with asthma should be receiving this care.”

What’s your tipple?

Meanwhile, a separate Asthma UK survey has found that red wine is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. The survey asked people with asthma about how much alcohol they drink and the effect it has on their symptoms. Here’s what they said:

  • Almost two thirds start to wheeze after drinking alcohol
  • More than half said they experience a tight chest and shortness of breath
  • A quarter said they’d had an asthma attack after drinking alcohol

Of the drinks that triggered asthma symptoms among the study’s participants, red wine was the most common, followed by white wine, beer and cider. The reason, says Asthma UK, could be that these drinks may contain higher levels of histamine and sulphites, both of which can sometimes be triggers for allergies and asthma (spirits such as vodka and gin are low in both, which suggests they may be better options for those with asthma than wine, cider or beer).

“If you have asthma, it’s important to be aware of your triggers,” says Sonia Munde, head of Asthma UK’s helpline and nurse manager.

“Always take your reliever inhaler if you’re planning on going out for the night, and make sure that your friends and colleagues know what to do if you experience symptoms or have an asthma attack. We recommend having a picture of your up-to-date asthma action plan on your phone.”

If you don’t have a written asthma action plan, you can download one from Asthma UK’s website.

Your local Careway pharmacist can also help you to take your asthma medicine correctly, as well as answer any questions you may have on keeping your asthma under control. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.