This National Asthma Week (1-8 September) the National Asthma Council Australia says it is time
that people with mild asthma re-think their over reliance on their ‘blue puffer’ for relief from asthma

Narelle Williamson, Respiratory Educator and Senior Clinical Advisor at the National Asthma Council
Australia explains to Dave  Short-acting beta2 agonists (SABAs) known colloquially as ‘puffers’ are readily available over the counter in Australia, making it hard to keep track of just how often people actually rely on them.
Narelle Williamson, Respiratory Educator and Senior Clinical Advisor at the National Asthma Council
Australia, says most people should now be using an inhaled corticosteroid, or ‘preventer’ in line with
international and national asthma guidelines – including the Australian Asthma Handbook.
“Many studies now show the risks involved with over-reliance on puffers and corresponding
underuse of inhaled corticosteroids or ‘preventer’ therapy. Some combination medications act as
both a maintenance treatment and can also be used as a reliever, if needed.
“Preventers address the underlying lung inflammation and result in better health outcomes than a
short-acting puffer alone. They can prevent asthma symptoms, reduce the risk of severe flare-ups
and importantly reduce asthma deaths.
“The aim of asthma treatment is to achieve good asthma control from a preventer, so that people
with asthma can be symptom-free much of the time and seldom require reliever therapy,” she said.
Ms Williamson said that experiencing regular asthma symptoms, or using your puffer more than 2–
3 times a week (except before exercise) should not be a ‘normal’ part of having asthma.
“National Asthma Week is a good time to talk to your health professional about how often you are
using a puffer and whether this can lead to increased risk of a severe asthma flare-up.
“GPs are still available to care for patients with asthma, that includes telehealth consultations by
telephone or video as well as in-person appointments,” she said.
The National Asthma Council Australia says good asthma control means:
• No night-time asthma symptoms
• No asthma symptoms on waking
• No need for reliever/puffer medication
• No restriction of day-to-day activities
• No days off school or work due to asthma
• No asthma attacks or flare-ups
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