Media Releases

Asthma preventers key to minimising preventable death

31 Aug 2023

The National Asthma Council Australia said it is time people with asthma realised it is a chronic inflammatory disease and not just an intermittent problem that they need to treat only when they have asthma symptoms such as wheezing, cough, chest tightness or shortness of breath.

Debbie Rigby, Clinical Executive Lead at the National Asthma Council Australia, said this misconception has led to the under-use of “preventers” and an over-reliance on over-the-counter relievers or “puffers”, resulting in poor asthma control, the need for oral corticosteroids, increased risk of an asthma attack, hospitalisation and even death.

“This National Asthma Week (1-7 September) is the perfect time for the 2.7 million Australians with asthma and their families to schedule an appointment with their GP to conduct an asthma review.

“This includes reviewing your Written Asthma Action Plan, checking inhaler technique and understanding the importance of preventer therapy in the management of your asthma,” she said.

Ms Rigby said that most adults and adolescents with asthma should be treated with a preventer in line with international and national asthma guidelines – including the Australian Asthma Handbook.

“Using less than four preventer canisters in a year is associated with higher death rates from asthma, so it is important to see your GP, get your scripts filled regularly at the pharmacy and then take your preventer exactly as prescribed.

“Preventers address the underlying lung inflammation, while short-acting puffers have no anti-inflammatory effects, so don’t treat the underlying inflammation or protect against preventable attacks.

“If you or a family member are using three or more puffer canisters per year - that is an average of 1.6 or more inhalations every day – you are doubling the risk of an emergency department visit and an increased risk of asthma death.

“Even more concerning, the use of 12 or more puffers in a year more than doubles the risk of death from asthma compared to two or fewer canisters per year.

“These are astounding statistics and people with asthma need to understand just relying on readily available puffers that can be purchased without a prescription comes with huge risks,” she said.

The National Asthma Council Australia says good asthma control means:

  • No night-time asthma symptoms
  • No asthma symptoms on waking
  • No need for reliever/puffer medication
  • 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:

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

06 Sep 2023

Hear from the asthma experts this National Asthma Week

30 Aug 2023

National Asthma Week 1-7 September 2023