Health – Whats new in asthma?

World Asthma Day (May 2) is upon us and winter draws near. This is the time when we see many people in the pharmacy with their asthma flaring up.

If you are one of the 520,000 New Zealanders taking medication for asthma, here are some facts that you might find interesting.

The key recommendation in the newly released NZ Asthma Guidelines, is to urge people to use action plans to manage their condition.

Be prepared for winter and organise an action plan for yourself and/or your child.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

• SMART stands for Single Inhaler Maintenance and Reliever Therapy. It was NZ research that helped demonstrate that SMART inhalers’, which contain medicines for short-term symptoms and long-term control of asthma, are very effective in helping people control their asthma.
• There are some new inhaler medications available that only need to be taken once a day. Your doctor can advise what is best for your asthma
• Then there is a new series of devices that replace or add on to your existing asthma inhaler. They offer functions from simple reminders for you to take your medication through to tracking your usage to your phone. They have recently been successfully trialed with children in NZ but are not available to buy here as yet
• There is a simple test that you can take to find out whether you are controlling your asthma, or your asthma is controlling you. The test can be found on and is worth doing even if you have done it before, as asthma can change over time
• A newly completed UK study looked at how important colour association is to the type of inhaler, particularly given all the new types of inhalers on the market and their different colours. It seems very important, as in my experience the majority of patients refer to the blue colour of their inhaler when speaking about their reliever
• Spacers can be your friend – you can get up to 50 percent more of your medication by using a spacer than you can by using your inhaler alone. Spacers make co-ordination easier plus they are just as effective as a Nebulizer, so very helpful for an acute asthma episode. Both children and adults benefit from using a spacer when taking a puffer inhaler and they are available free of charge.