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Asthma is a common condition where your airways swell and narrow, producing excess mucus, causing breathing difficulties.

Asthma typically presents in childhood, however, it can appear at any stage in life. At present in England alone, 5.4 million people receive asthma treatment. This equates to roughly one adult in 12 living with the condition. And one child in 11.

For some people, asthma is only a mild inconvenience. For others it can be a major health concern that interrupts daily life and can lead to a life threatening asthma attack.

While asthma itself can't be cured, there are ways to control symptoms and limit asthma attacks with breathing exercises and asthma medications, including combination inhalers.

Because asthma can evolve over time, it's important to work with your doctor or asthma nurse to monitor your symptoms and adjust your medicine as and when required.

What is an asthma attack?

When symptoms get gradually or suddenly worse, this is known as an asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks can require hospitalisation because they can be life threatening.

Symptoms of an asthma attack include:

-breathing difficulties
-tight chest
-reliever inhaler not working
-peak flow rate is lower than normal

What to do if you have an asthma attack

-Sit upright and try to keep calm
-Take one inhale (puff) of your reliever inhaler every 30 seconds for 10 inhales (puffs).
-If you don't feel better after the 10 inhales, call an ambulance.
-If the ambulance is not with you in 10 minutes, repeat step two.
-If you have an asthma attack you should always see your doctor or asthma nurse within 48 hours. One in six people who have an asthma attack will relapse within two weeks, so you need to reduce your risk factors.

Severe asthma

While doctors don't agree on the firm definition of severe asthma, the WHO puts it into three categories:

1. Untreatable asthma
2. Difficult to treat asthma
3. Therapy resistant asthma

Severe asthma symptoms are similar to other asthma symptoms, except they tend to be more intense and can be life threatening because they can be difficult to control with regular asthma treatments.

Complications of uncontrolled asthma

Poorly controlled asthma can cause long term consequences:

-Airway damage
-Reduced lung function
-Disrupted sleep
-Pregnancy complications
-Severe asthma attack
-Increased risk of infections

What are the causes of asthma?

Asthma happens when the bronchi, the small tubes which carry air into and out of our lungs become inflamed by a trigger. The airways narrow, the muscles in your chest tighten and your body increases its production of phlegm.

Why some people develop asthma is not known, but you're more likely to get it if there's a family history of the condition.

The asthma cause will vary from person to person, but common triggers include:

-Exercise induced asthma - asthma attacks are brought on by exercise, with exposure to cold air making symptoms worse.
-Occupational asthma - asthma is triggered by irritants at work, for example, dust mites or air pollution.
-Allergy triggers - asthma is brought on by exposure to pollen, pet dander, food allergies etc.
-Medicines - non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
-Emotions - laughter and stress can both cause an attack
-Weather conditions - a sudden change in temperature, or humidity, for example.

Symptoms of asthma

Asthma symptoms can be different in each person. You may experience all of them, or you may only have one at a certain time, i.e. when you come into contact with pet dander.

Signs and symptoms of asthma include:

-Chest tightness
-Pain in the chest
-Trouble sleeping due to breathing difficulties
-Coughing or wheezing exacerbated by respiratory virus

Signs and symptoms your asthma is getting worse:

-Asthma symptoms happen more frequently
-Need to use a quick relief inhaler more frequently
-Peak flow meter shows increasing difficulty breathing

How to diagnose asthma

A doctor will carry out a physical exam to rule out any other possible condition, for example, respiratory infection. They will ask you about your asthma symptoms and any other health problems you may have.

You may be given a lung function test to check how much air you breathe.

These tests include:

-Spirometry - this measures your bronchial tubes to check how much air you can exhale and how quickly you can exhale.
-Peak flow - this measures how hard you can breathe out. A low reading indicates your lungs aren't working as well as they should.

Asthma classification

Asthma is classified into four categories:

1. Mild intermittent - symptoms occur 2X days per week, 2X nighttime symptoms per month
2. Mild persistent - symptoms occur more frequently than 2X days per week, but not more frequently than once per day
3. Moderate persistent - symptoms occur more frequently than 1X per day and nighttime symptoms more than 1X per night per week
4. Severe persistent - symptoms occur frequently throughout most days and nights

What is the best way to treat asthma?

There is no cure for asthma.

Prevention and control are key to preventing asthma attacks. Learning what your particular asthma triggers are is the first step to control asthma.

The next step is to track your asthma and make sure your asthma medicine is up to date and relevant. In case you experience an asthma attack, you'll need a quick relief inhaler.

Asthma medication

Your doctor or asthma nurse will work with you to prescribe the best course of asthma medicine for you, depending on how old you are, your asthma symptoms, your asthma triggers and what works to control your asthma.

Preventer inhalers

These are taken daily to control asthma. Preventer inhalers are usually brown, red or orange. They work long term to reduce the inflammation in the airways, reducing the instances of asthma attacks.

They need to be used daily and indefinitely to control asthma.

A preventer inhaler usually contains an asthma medicine called inhaled corticosteroids.

Preventer medicines include: budesonide, ciclesonide, beclomethasone, mometasone.

Some preventer inhaler medicines can cause a mild fungal infection in the mouth or throat, so make sure you rinse your mouth out after each puff.

Reliever inhalers

A reliever inhaler is usually blue. These are used to deliver quick relief when needed. A reliever medicine is called a short acting beta agonists.

Short acting beta agonists work by relaxing the muscles around the airways. Note, they don't reduce the inflammation in the airway, so they don't provide asthma treatment long term.

Reliever medicines include: salbutamol and terbutaline.

There are few side effects to using these medicines.

Long acting reliever inhaler

If your asthma doesn't respond to your preventer inhaler, you may be prescribed a medicine known as long acting beta agonist to take as well. These are similar to reliever medicine. They take slightly longer to work, but their effects can last up to 12 hours.

Long acting reliever medicines include: formoterol and salmeterol

Long acting reliever inhalers can be prescribed as combination inhalers - containing both an inhaled corticosteroids, and a long acting bronchodilator in the same inhaler.

Oral corticosteroids

If your asthma still doesn't respond, a respiratory specialist can prescribe regular steroid tablets.

Long term use of oral medications can have serious side effects, so they're typically only given as a last resort.

Herbal and natural remedies

While natural remedies shouldn't be used in lieu of asthma medicines, they can be used as complementary medicine to your prescribed treatments.

Natural therapies include:

-Breathing exercises
-Herbal and natural remedies
-Yoga and mindfulness

Living with asthma

While most people living with asthma rely on prescription medicine to treat their symptoms, it can be helpful to try and prevent asthma attacks from happening in the first place.

Stay healthy

Being asthmatic doesn't mean you have to stop exercising, unless you have exercise induced asthma.

In fact regular exercise will actually help minimise the risk of an asthmatic episode because when you regularly exercise, it increases your cardiovascular strength and lung function, which in combination, improves respiratory function.

If you are worried about exercising in winter and the cold air triggering an asthma attack, wear a face mask to inhale warmer air.

Avoid asthma trigger

The main symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and a tight chest. 

Although there’s currently no cure, there are treatments to help ease asthma symptoms. Usually inhalers are used to treat asthma. 

Reliever inhalers are a short-term solution to quickly relieve symptoms. Preventer inhalers are used everyday to prevent symptoms from occurring.

Pharmacy Online offers a range of reliever and preventer inhalers to treat asthma. Contact one of our experts or start your consultation online.

Why Shop With Pharmacy Online?

At Pharmacy Online, we are committed to providing our customers with the highest quality asthma medicines at affordable prices. Our highly trained team of experienced pharmacists are constantly striving to improve our service to our valued customers.

Whether you're looking for prescription asthma medicines, or over-the-counter products, you can count on us for fast, efficient service at unbeatable prices.

If you require prescription asthma treatment, look no further than Pharmacy Online – we have everything you need to control symptoms and help you feel better fast!

Take An Online Assessment

At our online pharmacy, we understand that getting the medical treatment you need should be quick and easy. So we offer a simple medical assessment that you can complete in just a few minutes.

By answering a few questions about your health and medications, our healthcare professionals can ensure that you're getting the right treatment for your asthma management.

Our assessment is online allowing you to fill it out from the comfort of your own home, and we'll send your asthma medicine straight to your door. 

So if you're looking for a convenient way to access the medicines you need, check out our online pharmacy today.

Would You Like to Speak to a Pharmacist?

If you are concerned about asthma, ask a member of our team about the options available for asthma prevention and asthma treatment.

Our professional service gives you everything you need to manage your asthma from our registered online pharmacy.



Asthma is caused by the swelling and inflammation of small tubes in the lungs which are used to transport oxygen in and out of the lung. Symptoms can be made worse by:

  • Allergies such as pollen or dust
  • Cold air
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Infections that can affect the lungs like cold or flu


There is currently no cure for asthma; however, there are asthma treatments available, including medications to help to prevent and relieve symptoms.

Speak to a member of our team today to discuss options available to help with symptoms of asthma.


The most commonly reported symptoms of asthma include:

  • The tightness of the chest
  • Whistling sound when breathing (wheezing)
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing

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