Asthma is a common condition which currently affects more than two million Australians, or just under 10 per cent of the entire population of the country.

A recent survey found 58 per cent of respondents said their asthma affected their everyday activities and 54 per cent of respondents reported waking at night at least once in the previous week because of their asthma. Some 36 per cent said they felt fatigued or drained the following day due to disrupted sleep.

At present there is no known cure for asthma but with the right knowledge and good management, most people with asthma can lead full and active lives.

But surprisingly recent research has shown that more than 90 per cent of people with asthma do not use their inhaler correctly with the result being that they are not getting the full benefit of their medicines and may be suffering unnecessarily.

If you suffer from asthma, or care for some who does, it is important to speak to your community pharmacist and ensure you are using the inhaler correctly so as to maximise the benefits of the medication.

Your pharmacist also can demonstrate other products such as ‘spacers’ and ‘face masks’ which make inhalers more effective and easier to use.  Your pharmacy may also offer an Inhaler Technique Check service, to ensure that you are using your devices correctly

If you take regular medications to control your asthma, it is important to let your pharmacist know if you are taking other medications, including non-prescription medications, as some medications can aggravate asthma and bring on an asthma attack.

When you come to the pharmacy to buy reliever inhalers, the pharmacist might check if you are on a preventer and how often you need to use the reliever.

This is so the pharmacist can assess whether you are managing your asthma well, or whether you may need to see your doctor.

Your pharmacist can advise you on the best times to use your medicine, as well as how to avoid potential side effects.

Medicines which asthma sufferers should be alert for include some complementary medicines and some non-prescription medicines including aspirin. While aspirin-induced asthma is identified in only a small number proportion of cases asthma sufferers may be advised to avoid aspirin and the other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines if they suffer from this form of asthma.

Some complementary medicines can be a problem and in particular Royal Jelly and echinacea have been identified as products best avoided by asthma sufferers.

Your community pharmacist is the medicines expert and can advise you on the best ways to manage your asthma.