Only 7% Of Offaly Asthmatics Know All Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack

Only 7% of asthmatics in Offaly know all the symptoms of an asthma attack, according to the Asthma Society of Ireland.  There are 7,611 asthmatics living in County Offaly. One person dies a week in Ireland as a result of their asthma, but 90% of these deaths are preventable. To mark the global World Asthma Day, the Society wants everyone to learn the symptoms of an asthma attack and the 5 Step Rule to save a life in Offaly.


A recent Asthma Society survey of over 1,100 asthmatics, supported by both GSK & Boots Ireland, has revealed an alarming gap in knowledge around managing asthma and the resulting asthma attacks.

  • Only 7% of asthmatics know all asthma symptoms when surveyed
  • 27% of asthmatics do not consider daily use of their reliever inhaler as an indication that they are at risk of an asthma attack
  • Almost half of asthmatics would not see a health care professional after having an attack
  • 20% do not know that exposure to known asthma triggers is putting oneself at risk of an asthma attack
  • Only one in five asthmatics know it is safe to have 10 puffs of reliever inhaler during an asthma attack
  • Less than 5% of asthmatics know they must see a Healthcare Professional if they using their reliever inhaler more than twice a week


Boots Let’s Breathe Easy Clinics

During the month of May, Boot’s pharmacies will be offering free asthma consultations in their store in Offaly. These consultations will allow asthmatics to discuss their use of asthma medicines and inhaler technique, to ensure they are getting the most impact from their medication. These consultations will also provide advice to asthmatics on how to better manage their condition, allowing them to live a fuller life. The Asthma Society’s 5 Step Rule wallet cards will also be available from Boots stores during May, ensuring that people are better prepared if they or a family member ever have an asthma attack.

Boots Stores in Offaly:

  • 1 Church Street, Tullamore, County Offaly


The CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, Sarah O’Connor said:

“It is troubling to think that so few asthmatics in Offaly know all the symptoms of an asthma attack, placing them at huge risk of a serious attack which can be fatal. Therefore, it is vital that all asthmatics and their carers learn the symptoms of an asthma attack and the 5 Step Rule so that they are fully prepared. It really could be the difference between life and death. Our partnership with Boots Ireland during May is an ideal way to have your asthma reviewed and to learn the 5 Step Rule.”


Caoimhe McAuley, Director of Pharmacy with Boots Ireland said:

“We are delighted to partner with the Asthma Society for this important campaign. We want to raise awareness of how important it is for every single person to recognise the symptoms of an asthma attack and to understand the steps to take if an asthma attack strikes. Keeping asthma well controlled can reduce the chances of suffering an attack. Throughout the month of May, asthma patients can avail of a free ‘Let’s Breathe Easy’ consultation in their local Boots pharmacy. These consultations are designed to provide advice and support to patients with asthma, helping them to better manage their medication and condition.”


How an asthma attack feels:


“An asthma attack is an extremely scary situation to find yourself in. It is almost like dry drowning. Nothing can compare or even explain how it feels to not be able to catch your breath. As a result of one attack I passed out, was rushed to hospital by ambulance where I remained for three weeks.”


“There have been times during attacks when I thought I was going to die. I have had multiple hospital admissions including trips to ICU as a direct result of asthma attacks. It is quite frightening for those around me when they see my inhaler is not helping me while they are waiting for an ambulance to come.”


One mother described her son’s attack:

 “He had a coughing asthma attack. He had a persistent cough that could not be satisfied. This cough got worse and worse until all he was doing was coughing. His breathing was from his tummy, pale and tired from working so hard and couldn’t sleep from the effort of coughing. I thought he was going to die.”


5 Step Rule


  1. Stay calm. Sit up straight – do not lie down.
  2. Take slow steady breaths.
  3. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every minute.

Use a spacer if available.

People over 6 years can take up to 10 puffs in 10 minutes.

Children under 6 can take up to 6 puffs in 10 minutes.

  1. Call 112 or 999 if your symptoms do not improve after 10 minutes.
  2. Repeat step 3 if an ambulance has not arrived in 10 minutes.


Remember, if someone is having an asthma attack:

  • Do not leave them on their own.
  • Extra puffs of reliever inhaler (usually blue) are safe.


Symptoms of an asthma attack: wheezing, continuous coughing, chest tightness, shallow breathing, lips turning blue, difficulty finishing sentences.


The Asthma Society has launched its new website today, to celebrate World Asthma Day.  The Asthma Society has produced videos and infographics as part of the campaign to help members of the public to recognise the most common asthma symptoms and to know the 5 Step Rule to be followed during an attack. The Asthma Society will distribute wallet cards with the 5 Step Rule.


Asthma in Ireland:

  • 470,000 Irish people have asthma, including one in five children
  • One Irish person dies every week as a result of their asthma – of these deaths, 90% are preventable
  • Uncontrolled asthma is dangerous – every 26 minutes someone in Ireland visits an Emergency Department with asthma
  • Asthma costs the state over €500 million per annum
  • Children miss 12 days of school per year and adults miss 10 work days a year due to their asthma


Martijn Akveld, Director of Medical Affairs with GSK said:

“GSK is proud to support this campaign and we encourage people to share the information about asthma attacks with their family and friends. We share the Asthma Society’s mission to save and improve the lives of people with asthma and we are committed to helping those with the condition do more, feel better and live longer. We believe that proper asthma management is essential in preventing attacks. Through the campaign, asthmatics and their carers can learn how to use their inhaler properly, why it is so important to take their medication regularly and what the common triggers are for an asthma escalation. All these actions can prevent an attack.”


Shirley Keane from the HSE has also encouraged people to take the opportunity to have their asthma management checked and to learn the 5 Step Rule:

“I would encourage people to use the HSE and Asthma Society of Ireland’s free Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 for tips on best asthma management and talk to a specialist asthma nurse.. Asthma can be very manageable if people are better informed about how to get it under control and have their care reviewed regularly. The results of this survey show that people in Ireland need access to practical, expert advice and information about managing their asthma or their child’s asthma.


About Asthma Society of Ireland


Video – asthma attack symptoms:

Video – managing an attack in a child under 6:

Video – managing an attack in a child over 6 or adult:


Infographics from campaign:


The Society runs a free Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64. Callers can speak to an asthma specialist nurse to get practical advice about managing their asthma or their child’s asthma.


For further information about asthma and the Asthma Society’s services, see



About Boots

Boots Ireland is a leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with 86 Boots stores and just over 2,000 employees. Boots Ireland’s purpose is to help customers look and feel better than they ever thought possible. Customers are at the heart of the Boots Ireland business. And we are committed to providing exceptional customer and patient care, being the first choice for pharmacy and healthcare and offering innovative products ‘only at Boots’, such as No7 – all delivered with the great value our customers love.


Established in Ireland since 1996, the Boots brand is at the heart of the communities it serves. Boots Ireland is a member of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise, whose purpose is to help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives.


*As of 31 August 2016 excluding equity method investments


For more information, or images, please call the Boots Ireland Press Office on:  +353 1 669 0030 or email


About GSK in Ireland

GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, employs 1,700 people across four locations in Ireland – Dungarvan, Cork, Sligo and Dublin. GSK is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK is challenging the status quo of how a healthcare company can contribute to global health through improving access and innovation through both what and how we operate.


GSK in Dungarvan which produces a variety of ‘over-the-counter’ pharmacy and oral care products is the global home of Panadol:  Around 6.5 billion Panadol tablets are produced in Dungarvan each year – that’s 200 Panadol tablets a second – exporting to over 70 countries worldwide.


Our Cork site produces the active ingredients for a range of medicines for diseases such as childhood cancer, depression, diabetes, HIV and Parkinson’s disease, while our Sligo facility is dedicated to skincare producing around 30 million skin medicines and products every year including Oilatum and Physiogel exporting to over 65 countries.


Our Dublin headquarters are home to our Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Healthcare businesses. Our Pharma business is a leader in respiratory medicines and the largest provider of vaccines to the HSE in Ireland while the consumer healthcare is one of the leaders in both the pain and oral care markets owning famous brands such as Panadol, Voltorol, Sensodyne and Corsodyl.

About Asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of varying severity that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs.  People with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances (or triggers), which irritate them. Common triggers include cold and flu, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.


When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swell and produce sticky mucus.  As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out. That is why people with asthma wheeze and find breathing difficult.


Whilst there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding triggers and by the use of ‘reliever’ and ‘controller’ medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when asthma symptoms appear. Controllers help calm the airways and stop them from being so sensitive. Talk to your GP or asthma nurse about which treatment is most suitable for you.  All patients with asthma are also advised to have a tailored asthma action plan, a crucial part of patient self-management, which helps patients control their asthma.

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