Get in the know this summer
Going on holiday?
- If you take regular medication, make sure you order your prescription in good time from your GP practice, so you don’t run out when you are on holiday.
- Remember to take your medication with you.
- If you are unwell when away from home in the UK, your own GP practice should still be your first port of call. They will be able to provide online, phone and video consultations and arrange for prescriptions to be sent to any pharmacy you choose.
- You can also use NHS 111 online for advice about getting the right care near to where you are on holiday in the UK.
- Take a basic first aid kit with you on holiday.
- If you’re planning to travel outside the UK, you may need to be vaccinated against some of the serious diseases found in other parts of the world.
Asthma symptoms and breathing difficulties can be triggered by summer weather, for example if there are thunderstorms, in hot weather and if there is a high pollen count. You can also be at risk if you have hayfever or a grass pollen allergy, as well as if you have asthma.
- If you have already been prescribed a preventer inhaler (usually a brown, pink or purple inhaler), it is important to keep taking it to prevent a severe attack.
- Use a spacer, if you have one, to help the medicine get to the lungs.
- If you have a blue/reliever inhaler, make sure you carry this with you at all times so it is ready to use
- Make sure you are using your inhalers properly. You can read more about how to do this below.
- If your symptoms are worsening, follow your asthma action plan, contact your GP practice or use NHS 111.
A good inhaler technique gives you the best chance of managing your astma symptoms.
- Prepare the inhaler device.
- Prepare or load the dose.
- Breath out gently as far as is comfortable, not into the inhaler.
- Tilt the chin up slightly and put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it.
- Dry Powder Inhaler: Breathe in as quickly and deeply as possible. Aerosol: Breath in slowly and steadily.
- Remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for up to ten seconds or as long as possible.
- Wait 30 seconds then repeat steps one to six for a second dose, if needed. Close the inhaler or replace the lid as appropriate.
When to seek further help
If more than ten puffs are needed in a four-hour period, contact your GP practice or use NHS 111. If the patient is really struggling after ten puffs or has symptoms such as those shown below, please go to the emergency department:
- Being too breathless to talk
- Breathing rapidly
- Blue lips
- Grunting when breathing
- Muscles in the neck and between the ribs are pulling when breathing
- If they are floppy or unresponsive.
Keep giving the blue inhaler until you get to hospital.
Staying safe in hot weather
Hot weather is something many people look forward to but it’s worth remembering that for some people, especially older people and those with underlying health conditions, the summer heat can bring real health risks. Temperatures indoors can also be higher than temperatures outdoors.
The good news is, we can all take precautions that allow us to enjoy the hot weather safely and help people who might be more vulnerable as the temperatures rise.
- To keep your home cool, close blinds and curtains on windows that are exposed to direct sunlight. Use an electric fan if the temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at the body.
- Go outside if it is cooler in the shade than being inside.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol during the hot weather.
- If spending time outdoors remember to take water or other hydrating drinks with you.
- Protect yourself from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm, and avoid physical exertion. Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, sunglasses and light, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes.
- Apply sunscreen frequently of at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 star ultraviolet A (UVA) protection regularly to exposed skin.
- Don’t leave babies, children, older people or vulnerable people or pets alone in stationary cars in hot weather.
- Look out for children in prams or pushchairs in hot weather; keep them in the shade, remove excess clothing, ensure there is adequate air flow and check regularly to ensure they are not overheated.
- Look out for older people, people with long-term health conditions and young children who may find it more difficult to stay cool and hydrated in hot weather.
- Ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any help keeping cool.
Treating heat exhaustion
If you or others feel unwell, get dizzy, feel weak, anxious or have intense thirst, move to a cool place, rehydrate and cool your body down:
- Move to a cooler room or somewhere in the shade.
- Remove all unnecessary clothing
- Drink cool water, a sports or rehydration drink, or eat cold and water rich foods like ice-lollies.
- Apply cool water by spray or sponge to exposed skin, and using cold packs wrapped in a cloth and put under the armpits or on the neck can also help.
- Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms and drink plenty of cool drinks.
- Seek medical attention if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist.