Managing respiratory conditions

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Respiratory

West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (WL CCG) is undertaking a highly successful project with GP practices to provide quality reviews for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Building on this work, we've created this page to provide additional resources to patients with asthma and COPD so you can get the most out of your inhaled medication.

On this page you can find out more about:

You can also visit the NHS Asthma and COPD web pages, which include more information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

 

Inhalers for asthma and COPD

Inhalers are usually prescribed for patients with asthma and COPD as they are effective at delivering medication directly to the lungs. Having the correct inhaler technique is important to ensure you get the maximum benefits from the medication prescribed for you.

Asthma UK has produced a series of videos to demonstrate the correct techniques for a number of inhaler types. If you are unsure as to exactly which type of inhaler you are using, you can search for it here.

Remeber, you can also speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist if you have any further questions.

Below are links to a selection of Asthma UK inhaler technique videos. See all 21 Asthma UK inhaler technique videos.

pMDI

Accuhaler

Spiromax

NEXThaler

Ellipta

Spacer with tidal breathing

Spacer with tidal breathing

Child spacer without mask

Child spacer with mask

 

Asthma and COPD: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is asthma?

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.

What happens in asthma?

What happens in asthma?

Your airways carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, they are very sensitive. Certain things trigger the muscles around your airways to tighten, making your airways narrower. The airway lining also becomes inflamed causing a build-up of sputum. This makes your airways even narrower. With narrow airways, it’s harder to get air in and out of your lungs.

 

What are the symptoms of asthma?

What are the symptoms of asthma?

The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
  • breathlessness
  • a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it 
  • coughing

The symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse. This is known as an asthma attack.

How can asthma be treated?

How can asthma be treated?

Asthma is usually treated by using an inhaler, a small device that lets you breathe in medicines.

The main types are:

  • reliever inhalers – used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time
  • preventer inhalers – used every day to prevent asthma symptoms occurring

Some people also need to take tablets.

What is COPD?

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. They make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because your airways have been narrowed.

Two of these lung conditions are persistent bronchitis and emphysema, which can also occur together.

  • Bronchitis means the airways are inflamed and narrowed. People with bronchitis often produce sputum, or phlegm.
  • Emphysema affects the air sacs at the end of the airways in your lungs. They break down and the lungs become baggy and full of holes which trap air.

These processes narrow the airways. This makes it harder to move air in and out as you breathe, and your lungs are less able to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

What are the symptoms of COPD?

  • getting short of breath easily when you do everyday things such as going for a walk or doing housework
  • having a cough that lasts a long time
  • wheezing in cold weather
  • producing more sputum or phlegm than usual

You might get these symptoms all the time, or they might appear or get worse when you have an infection or breathe in smoke or fumes.

What’s the difference between COPD and asthma?

What’s the difference between COPD and asthma?

With COPD, your airways have become narrowed permanently – inhaled medication can help to open them up to some extent.

With asthma, the narrowing of your airways comes and goes, often when you’re exposed to a trigger – something that irritates your airways – such as tobacco smoke, dust or pollen. Inhaled medication can open your airways fully, prevent symptoms and relieve symptoms by relaxing your airways.

So, if your breathlessness and other symptoms are much better on some days than others, or if you often wake up in the night feeling wheezy, it’s more likely you have asthma.

Where can I get expert advice?

Where can I get expert advice?

Inhalers are usually prescribed for patients with asthma and COPD as they are effective at delivering medication directly to the lungs.  Having the correct inhaler technique is important to ensure you get the maximum benefits from the medication prescribed for you.

You can also speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist if you have any further questions. A series of videos and leaflets have been produced to demonstrate the correct inhaler techniques for the different devices available.  Please click on the relevant link(s) below for the inhaler device(s) you have been prescribed.

 

 

COPD Prednisolone and Antibiotic Rescue Packs

This is medication for when your COPD flares up, or gets worse for a period of time. It is commonly made up of prednisolone tablets, which are steroids, and an antibiotic. They are not part of your regular treatment. You have these medicines so that you can start treatment for a ‘flare up’ if you cannot get immediate access to your GP or nurse. They are not instead of a medical consultation.

 

Asthma UK videos

How to prevent an asthma attack

Spotting signs of asthma in your child