New pharmacy service helps people get the best from their inhalers

Pharmacies in Leeds are offering a new service aimed at helping people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) use their inhalers more effectively and so better manage their symptoms.

The service is initially being offered at 25 community pharmacies but will be rolled out to 50 in the autumn.  Trained pharmacy staff will check how well people are using their inhalers and show them better techniques if they are struggling.

Nationally, around 8 million people in the UK have asthma and 1.2 million have COPD, with an estimated further 2 million undiagnosed. In Leeds, the number is nearly 50,000 with asthma and 17,000 with COPD. The majority regularly use inhalers to manage their conditions as well as to relieve symptoms during an attack, but according a recent Asthma UK survey, up to a third aren’t using their inhalers the right way.

According to Dr Katherine Hickman, GP and Clinical Lead for Respiratory for NHS Leeds CCG said: “The Inhaler Check Service is about making sure people with asthma and COPD are able to use their inhalers in the correct way and that they are appropriate for them. In Leeds we have recognised that some people with asthma or COPD have been prescribed an inhaler that they might find difficult to use. Unfortunately this can affect how well their respiratory condition is controlled.

“The community pharmacies across Leeds will help patients have easier access to inhaler checks, to ensure they are getting the most from their inhalers and that their asthma or COPD is well controlled.”

If your local pharmacy is not taking part in the service, people with asthma and COPD can still ask for a medicines use review. This is an appointment with a pharmacist to focus on how patients are getting on with their medicines, including the inhalers for asthma or COPD.

Current Participating Pharmacies(230KB)

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About asthma

Asthma is a long-term condition that affects your airways – the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. You could say that someone with asthma has ‘sensitive’ airways that are inflamed and ready to react when they come into contact with something they don’t like. Asthma tends to run in families, especially when there’s also a history of allergies and/or smoking.

Symptoms of asthma

  • Wheezing, or a whistling noise in the chest
  • Getting short of breath
  • Coughing, particularly at night and after exercise
  • Feeling tight in the chest which can be described as chest hurting or tummy ache

If you would like to know more about Asthma. Please follow the link to visit the Asthma UK website:

About COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.

COPD is a progressive and (currently) incurable disease, but with the right diagnosis and treatment, there are many things you can do to manage your COPD and breathe better. People can live for many years with COPD and enjoy life.

Symptoms of COPD include

  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Frequent coughing (with and without mucus)
  • Increased breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest

If you would like to know more about COPD. Please follow the link to visit the COPD foundation website:

Preventer inhalers

Preventer inhalers – usually brown, red or orange – work over time to reduce the amount of inflammation and sensitivity of the airways, and reduce the chances of asthma attacks occurring.

They must be used regularly (typically twice or occasionally once daily) and indefinitely to keep asthma under control. If you would like to know more about inhalers. Please follow the link to visit the NHS choices website:

Reliever inhalers

Reliever inhalers – usually blue – are taken to relieve asthma symptoms quickly.

The inhaler usually contains a medicine that relaxes the muscles surrounding the narrowed airways. This allows the airways to open wider, making it easier to breathe again. If you would like to know more about inhalers. Please follow the link to visit the NHS choices website: