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Dealing with Seasonal Asthma and Affording Your Inhalers

Spring has arrived and now summer is knocking on our door. Did you know the weather can make a person’s asthma symptoms worse?

If you only experience asthma symptoms at certain times of the year, or your asthma worsens when it’s very cold or when there’s pollen in the air in spring, you may have seasonal asthma.

Let’s learn more about the seasonal effects of asthma and the treatments.

What is Asthma?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as many as 1 in 13 people in the United States have asthma.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease which makes it difficult to move air into and out of your lungs.

Airways in the lungs become inflamed when triggered by certain stimuli such as weather, dust, chemicals, smoke, pet dander, or other things in the air or environment. 

When this inflammation is triggered there is little room for air to travel in and out of the lungs through the swollen air passages. There is no cure for asthma but thanks to new medications it can be managed every day. 

How Can Weather Affect Asthma?

A change of seasons, a storm, or a sudden change in weather can make it harder to breathe or cause a flare-up.

In spring, the high pollen count is a factor, especially for the approximately 50% of people whose asthma is triggered by seasonal allergies. A pre-existing allergy is a common trigger.

During summer and autumn, extreme weather conditions such as heat and thunderstorms can also be asthma triggers. It’s thought that hot air and humidity can cause the airways to narrow, just like very cold air does.

It’s also possible that there’s a change in the number of pollutants and moulds in the air when it’s hotter.

How Can I Avoid Weather Triggers?

Once you know what your weather triggers are, it’s important to avoid them:

  • Watch the forecast for pollen and mold counts, and for weather that might affect your asthma.
  • Stay indoors early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) when pollen levels in the air are at their highest.
  • Stay indoors on days when your triggers are strongest.
  • Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose outside during very cold weather.
  • Keep your windows closed at night. If it’s hot, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
  • Stay away from freshly cut grass and leaf piles.
  • Keep your quick-relief medication (also called rescue or fast-acting medication) with you all the time — even when you’re feeling fine!

How is Asthma treated?

If you or a loved one has asthma, you should know about the best treatments for short-term relief and long-term control. This will help you and your doctor manage the symptoms. If you have symptoms or an asthma attack, it’s important to know when to call your doctor to prevent an emergency.

Asthma inhalers are the most common and effective way to deliver asthma medication to your lungs. They’re available in several types that work in different ways. Some deliver one medication. Others contain two medications.

People that suffer from asthma may need to use fast-acting rescue medications, long-term treatments, or both.

Rescue inhalers (or quick-relief inhalers)

People with asthma use these medications to ease asthma symptoms. These medications relax the muscles that tighten around your airways. This helps open them up so you can breathe easier.

  • Short-acting beta-agonists are the first choice for quick relief of asthma symptoms. They include albuterol (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA), epinephrine (Asthmanefrin, Primatene Mist), and levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA).  It is interesting to note that active ingredient known as albuterol is known as salbutamol in Canada.
  • Anticholinergics such as ipratropium (Atrovent Inhaler) lessen mucus in addition to opening your airways. They take longer to work than short-acting beta-agonists.
  • Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone lower swelling in your airways.
  • Combination quick-relief medications have both an anticholinergic and a short-acting beta-agonist.

Preventive long-term medications

Preventative medications treat symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. They reduce swelling and mucus in your airways so they’re less sensitive and less likely to react to asthma triggers.

  • Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medications. These aren’t the same as anabolic steroids that people use to grow muscle. They include beclomethasone (Qvar RediHaler), budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler), ciclesonide (Alvesco inhaler), fluticasone (Flovent HFA), and mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler).
  • Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists open your airways by relaxing the smooth muscles around them. These medications are usually paired with an inhaled corticosteroid. They include formoterol, salmeterol, and vilanterol.
  • Combination inhaled medications have an inhaled corticosteroid along with a long-acting beta-agonist. This is an easy way to take them together. They include Advair Diskus, Advair Inhaler, Breo Ellipta, Dulera, and Symbicort.
  • Cromolyn prevents your airways from swelling when they come into contact with an asthma trigger. It’s a non-steroid medication that comes in an inhaler (Intal Inhaler, Cromoglycate Nebulizer).
  • Long-acting bronchodilators. You might use tiotropium (Spiriva Respimat Inhaler) along with corticosteroids if you have ongoing asthma symptoms even though you take a daily inhaled steroid. Long-acting bronchodilators are usually not prescribed alone as a long-term asthma treatment.

Using your inhaler properly ensures the medication is delivered where it is needed — the lungs. Other devices, like champers (Aerochamber 2GO, Aerochamper MAX adult Mask or Infant Mask),spacers and nebulizers, can also help.  There are even Aerochambers available for pets (AeroDawg and AeroKat)!

What is in Advair Diskus?

Advair Diskus (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol) is used to control and prevent the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. It is also used to control these same symptoms, which may be associated with other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

This prescription medication contains two different medications: fluticasone propionate and salmeterol.

Fluticasone propionate is in a class of medication known as corticosteroids, which reduces the swelling in the airways. Salmeterol is a long-acting beta agonist (a bronchodilator), which helps improve breathing by opening the airways in the lungs.

What is Advair Inhaler (HFA)?

The Advair Inhaler (HFA) also contains the medications fluticasone propionate and salmeterol. However, while the Advair Diskus is a dry powder inhaler, the Advair HFA Inhaler is an aerosol inhaler that contains a propellant to help deliver the medication to your lungs. 

What is the difference between Advair Diskus and Advair HFA?

Advair HFA is FDA-approved for asthma.

Advair Diskus is FDA-approved for both asthma and COPD.

While the two delivery methods and dosages may vary, the active ingredients are the same in both.

It is important to note that the Advair Diskus and the Advair HFA Inhaler are both used in circumstances when patients do not find relief from breathing problems when using just one asthma medication alone.

Who should NOT take Advair Diskus or Advair HFA Inhaler?

Advair Diskus is meant for patients over the age of four years old.  It is not meant for children or adults who are already using a prescription medication to control asthma, such as an inhaled corticosteroid.

Note: Advair is not to be used in place of a rescue inhaler in case of an emergency breathing problem.

Do not use prescription Advair Diskus if you are allergic to milk proteins or if you are taking a medication that contains a LABA (long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist).

How are the Advair Diskus and the Advair HFA Inhaler used to treat breathing problem such as asthma?

This medication must be used as directed by your doctor.  For best benefits, be sure to use the medication regularly and at evenly spaced time intervals, at the same time(s) each day.  

Do not increase or decrease your dose without speaking to your doctor.

Be sure to gargle and rinse your mouth out completely with water after each use of prescription Advair Diskus and Advair Inhaler to prevent irritation and possible yeast infection in the mouth and throat.

What are the side effects of Advair Diskus and the Advair HFA Inhaler?

Most people using this medication do not have serious side effects. However, there are some side effects you may encounter including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Irritated throat
  • Headache
  • Raised blood pressure

It is important to monitor your blood pressure while using prescription Advair Diskus or Advair HFA for breathing trouble related to asthma, or COPD.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects.  Please refer to the insert that comes with your prescription and speak to your pharmacist about possible side effects.

Affording your inhalers

Inhalers can be expensive, so how can you save money if you need one? Here are some of your options:

  • Try a certified Canadian online pharmacy, such as Canada Online Health. Canada Online Health is certified by Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). No hidden costs, no membership fees, just great savings on all your prescription needs They can help you save up to 80% on your out-of-pocket cost.
  • Switch to a more affordable alternative. In recent years, many inhalers have gone generic, which can offer huge savings. For example, Wixela Inhub contains the same active ingredients as Advair Diskus that have been shown to both control symptoms in asthma patients ages 4 and over.

If your inhaler isn’t covered by your insurance, just call Canada Online Health and find safe and affordable medications.  

References:

  • kidshealth.org
  • mayoclinic.org
  • webmd.com

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If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at CheapoMeds by calling toll free 1-844-4CHEAPO (424-3276). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this medical condition or process and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress, please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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