Asthma Winter 2015/16 Newsletter

Rookery Respiratory Clinic
Winter Reminder
Focus on Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary
Disease (COPD)
Our respiratory clinic deals with two main
respiratory conditions that have many
things in common: asthma and COPD:
Chronic (means long lasting) Obstructive
(refers to difficulty breathing out) Pulmonary
Disease (means disease affecting the lungs).
It used to be called chronic bronchitis and /
or emphysema. However, COPD and
asthma are very different from each other:
COPD is a steadily progressive condition
where the symptoms of breathlessness,
chronic cough, regular sputum production
and wheeze gradually worsen over many
years. Symptoms do not usually begin to
show until age 40 or older. Smoking is the
main cause of COPD.
Asthma however, is usually diagnosed in
childhood. Triggers such as house dust
mite, pollen, animal dander, cold air and
exercise can cause a dramatic narrowing
of the airways in some people with asthma
causing chest tightness, wheeze and
difficulty breathing out. Viral infections
such as a cold or flu can also trigger
symptoms. Smoking makes asthma
considerably worse over the long term by
causing permanent damage to the lungs.
Many patients with asthma who continue
to smoke will go on to develop COPD.
Inhalers can be used for both conditions –
some of them are the same and others are
specific for each condition. A well
controlled asthmatic should have no
symptoms most of the time (see Autumn
Reminder on good control). However,
people with COPD tend to have symptoms
on most days regardless of treatment.
So there are three messages in this
column:1. If you’re an older asthmatic and you feel
you’re always short of breath or have a
chronic productive cough despite your
inhalers, please come in for review
asking specifically about COPD
(especially if you have a history of
smoking, even if you don’t smoke now).
We can do lung function tests in the
surgery to see if you have COPD. The
inhalers that would be best for you are
slightly different to those we use in
asthma. If you still smoke, stopping
smoking is the most important thing, and
we can help you with that also if you
wish. If you continue smoking you will
get worse much quicker.
2. If you are an asthmatic and your
symptoms make you use your reliever
(blue) inhaler regularly more than twice
a week, have difficulty sleeping because
of a cough or wheeze or restrict what
activities you can do, please make an
appointment in the respiratory clinic to
be reviewed.
3. If you’re a younger asthmatic please
don’t start smoking. If you’re an
asthmatic who smokes please do your
future self a big favour and make a
determined effort to stop. If you would
like help stopping smoking please let us
know. See the Summer Reminder also.
Annual review reminder
If you haven’t had a routine
chest review in the last 12
months we invite you to come to
our Respiratory Clinic run by our
excellent well trained respiratory
Phone 01638 664338
‘Flu jabs’
Annual influenza vaccinations (‘flu jabs’)
may still be available when you receive
this reminder (there were some left at time
of going to print).
They are recommended for:- everyone with COPD,
- everyone who has been in hospital with
- anyone who uses an inhaler every day.
The flu vaccination is recommended for all
those aged 65 years and over.
Phone 01638 664338