Asthma: an emergency spray used too often

People with asthma are usually prescribed two types of inhalers:

  • Corticosteroid spray: It serves as a long-term medicine and should be used regularly to reduce inflammation and thus the symptoms. As a result, asthma attacks are less common. In this case, cortisone acts only locally, ie in the airways. Therefore, side effects that affect the whole body cannot be expected with asthma sprays.
  • SABA Spray: Contains an active ingredient that dilates the bronchi. It is an emergency drug and is only used to quickly alleviate acute symptoms in an emergency. The effect usually lasts only a few hours.

Good asthma treatment is characterized by the use of SABA spray as little as possible.

However, analysis of prescription data in the United Kingdom found that 26 percent of asthma patients used SABA inhalers primarily and were prescribed at least six times a year. The number of prescriptions varied significantly between primary care practices: in some, 6 percent of asthma patients were over-prescribed, in others, as much as 60 percent.

However, the use of SABA spray instead of corticosteroid spray is associated with poor asthma control and an increase in severe asthma attacks and hospitalizations. An older study from 2014 even showed that overuse of SABA sprays killed more people with asthma.

Dr Anna De Simoni of Queen Mary University London said: “There is significant room for improvement – we have calculated that reducing the number of patients using more than 12 SABA inhalers per year has resulted in 70 percent fewer asthma-related hospitalizations in this group. “

Co: DOI 10.3399 / BJGP.2021.0725

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