Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties.
It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.
There’s currently no cure, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control so it doesn’t have a big impact on your life.
The main symptoms of asthma are:
wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
The symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse. This is known as an asthma attack.
Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and correct treatment.
Your GP will usually be able to diagnose asthma by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.
Asthma self-assessment tool
The main types are:
reliever inhalers – used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time (e.g salbutamol)
preventer inhalers (steroid) – used every day to prevent asthma symptoms occurring
Some people also need to take tablets.
Causes and triggers
Asthma is caused by swelling (inflammation) of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This makes the tubes highly sensitive, so they temporarily narrow.
It may occur randomly or after exposure to a trigger. Common asthma triggers include:
allergies – to house dust mites, animal fur or pollen, for example
smoke, pollution and cold air
infections like colds or flu
Identifying and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you keep your symptoms under control.
Salbutamol is used to relieve symptoms of asthma and COPD such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It works by relaxing the muscles of the airways into the lungs which makes it easier to breathe.
Salbutamol inhalers are called ‘reliever’ inhalers because they give you quick relief from breathing problems as required, only when you need them. In most cases, you will be given another inhaler to ‘prevent’ your symptoms and you should use this regularly every day.
If you need to use your salbutamol inhaler more than 3 times a week, it could be a sign that your breathing problem is not well controlled.
How and when to use it
Only use your salbutamol when you need it. This may be when you notice symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest or you know that you are going to do an activity that can make you breathless.
The normal dose for adults
1 or 2 puffs of salbutamol when you need it
up to a maximum of 4 times in 24 hours (regardless of whether you have 1 puff or 2 puffs at a time)
Asthma attacks can get worse very quickly. If you are struggling to breathe or have asthma symptoms that are not getting better, go to hospital immediately or call an ambulance.
How to use your inhaler
How to use a Small Volume Spacer
Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. The following side effects may happen with this medicine:
Allergic Reactions (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people)
If you have an allergic reaction, stop taking Ventolin Evohaler and see a doctor straight away.
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if:
you feel your heart is beating faster or stronger than usual (palpitations). This is usually harmless, and usually stops after you have used the medicine for a while
you may feel your heartbeat is uneven or it gives an extra beat
these may affect up to 1 in 10 people.
Tell your doctor if you have any of the following side effects which may also happen with this medicine:
Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)
Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)
mouth and throat irritation
Rare (may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people)
a low level of potassium in your blood
increased blood flow to your extremities (peripheral dilatation).
Very rare (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people)
changes in sleep patterns and changes in behaviour, such as restlessness and excitability.
These are not all the side effects of salbutamol. For a full list see the Patient information leaflet.