Ireland has the fourth highest incidence of asthma in the world, with 470,000 people living with asthma, of which upwards of 282,000 people do not have their symptoms under control.
Inhalers are one of the most common medicines used to treat asthma, yet research shows as many as 90 per cent of people may be using their inhaler incorrectly. However, when taught the correct technique, people are able to use their inhalers more effectively, with benefits for their asthma control and overall health.
Launched earlier this month to mark ‘World Asthma Day’, the Boots and Asthma Society of Ireland ‘Let’s Breathe Easy’ campaign aims to educate people in the best way to handle their symptoms. The high-street pharmacist is also offering sufferers a special asthma support pack. This includes an asthma information leaflet, an asthma control test, an asthma management plan and year of care calendar, with monthly tips and hints on how to best manage asthma throughout the year.
The ‘Let’s Breathe Easy’ packs, which were developed in partnership with the Asthma Society of Ireland, also contain vouchers and special offers on a range of products and services to support patients with asthma and are available from Boots in Galway.
Sharon Cosgrove, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, advises Galwegians to take advantage of the available supports.
“Wheezing, coughing and breathlessness do not need to be tolerated by people who have asthma. Asthma symptoms can be controlled and with the correct use of your medication, you can ensure that you stay fit and healthy. Pick up your ‘Let’s Breathe Easy’ asthma support pack at Boots and book in for an appointment with the pharmacist while you are there so that you can keep your asthma symptoms under control,” she says.
The move follows the launch of the new joint North-South study on all-island air quality, which will examine air pollution from residential solid fuel.
The study, supported by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, has been welcomed by the INHALE Alliance, who say the research will yield health benefits for those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions, as well as the population as a whole.
Formed by the Asthma Society of Ireland, the INHALE Alliance came together in recent weeks, having separately advocated for cleaner air across Ireland. Members of the alliance have been drawn from the fields of medicine, science and the environment and they have jointly welcomed the intention to ban smoky coal on an all-island basis.
“We are delighted that the minister intends to introduce a ban on smoky coal across the State within the next three years. It is appropriate that this announcement has been made during the EU-designated Year of Air and coincides with the Asthma Society’s World Asthma Day campaign, ‘Fighting Asthma with Every Breath’,” says Ms Cosgrave.
“Asthma is the most common chronic disease in Ireland, with approximately half a million sufferers, and Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide. We warmly welcome this progressive decision to eliminate dangerous pollutants in the air, which exacerbate and trigger this potentially fatal condition.”
SIDEBAR: Top tips for asthma sufferers
1. Pick up a copy of the ‘Let’s Breath Easy’ support pack from Boots and the Asthma Society of Ireland.
2. Many people with have asthma also suffer from hay fever. If you do, try to stay indoors if there is a high pollen count. Wear wraparound sunglasses, as these will help stop pollen blowing into your eyes. Try to stay out of places with lots of grass, like parks or fields.
3. Know what your peak flow reading is, as it can help you determine how controlled your asthma is.
4. Use your controller inhaler even if you are feeling well. Keep your reliever inhaler with you at all times.