Take your asthma medication even after an attack, doctors urge

Asthma patients should continue taking medication even after an attack, urged doctors at a media conference on Friday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Asthma patients should continue taking medication even after an attack, urged doctors at a media conference on Friday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Asthma patients should continue taking medication even after an attack, urged doctors at a media conference on Friday.

They should try and do so for at least three months after the episode, said Dr Chan Tiong Beng, a cough and chest specialist with over 30 years experience.

Asthma patients usually take two types of medication - those for immediate relief of symptoms and others to prevent another attack.

Patients tend to stop medication by themselves weeks after an asthma attack because they no longer feel symptoms like coughing or wheezing. But that might be too early, said Dr Chan.

They can consult their doctors to cut the dosage of their preventive medicine after an attack, but it may not be advisable to stop altogether, he added.

According to a survey by pharmaceutical company Mundipharma, 94 percent of Singaporean patients think their asthma is well-controlled, although the actual figure is only one in four patients.

If their asthma is controlled, patients should not wake up at night, and should be able to exercise freely. They should also use medication to relieve symptoms fewer than three times a week.

Noted Professor David Price, from the Primary Care Respiratory Medicine at the University of Aberdeen: "Patients might have asthma all their lives and perceive waking up at night, or using a reliever often as normal."

"But they are underestimating their conditions," he added, speaking at an event where a new asthma inhaler called Flutiform was launched.