Media Releases

Time to re-think reliance on puffers for asthma

2 Sep 2021

This National Asthma Week (1-7 September) the National Asthma Council Australia says it is time that people with mild asthma re-think the over-reliance on their ‘blue puffer’ for relief from asthma symptoms. 

Short-acting beta2 agonists (SABAs) known colloquially as ‘puffers’ are readily available over the counter in Australia, making it hard to keep track of just how often people actually rely on them. 

Narelle Williamson, Respiratory Educator and Senior Clinical Advisor at the National Asthma Council Australia, says most people should now be using an inhaled corticosteroid, or ‘preventer’ in line with international and national asthma guidelines – including the Australian Asthma Handbook

“Many studies now show the risks involved with over-reliance on puffers and corresponding underuse of inhaled corticosteroids or ‘preventer’ therapy. Some combination medications act as both a maintenance treatment and can also be used as a reliever, if needed. 

“Preventers address the underlying lung inflammation and result in better health outcomes than a short-acting puffer alone. They can prevent asthma symptoms, reduce the risk of severe flare-ups and importantly reduce asthma deaths. 

“The aim of asthma treatment is to achieve good asthma control from a preventer, so that people with asthma can be symptom-free much of the time and seldom require reliever therapy,” she said. 

Ms Williamson said that experiencing regular asthma symptoms, or using your puffer more than 2– 3 times a week (except before exercise) should not be a ‘normal’ part of having asthma. 

“National Asthma Week is a good time to talk to your health professional about how often you are using a puffer and whether this can lead to increased risk of a severe asthma flare-up”. 

“GPs are still available to care for patients with asthma, that includes telehealth consultations by telephone or video as well as in-person appointments,” she said

The National Asthma Council Australia says good asthma control means: 

  • No night-time asthma symptoms
  • No asthma symptoms on waking
  • Minimal need for reliever/puffer medication (not counting doses deliberately taken before exercise)
  • No restriction of day-to-day activities
  • No days off school or work due to asthma
  • No asthma attacks or flare-ups. 

For more information, visit: 

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For further information or an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact: Donna Le Page, Le Page PR 

Mobile: 0429 825 703 Email: [email protected]

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