The Solutions

Firstly as individuals, and as a society, there are many things we can do to improve the health of our lungs, bodies and minds.

Quit Smoking

If you smoke, by far the best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking. The most effective way to do this is to get help from a trained professional and use medication, such as nicotine replacement, bupropion or varenicline to help deal with cravings. For more help visit https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree

Tobacco smoking is also really bad for the environment.

Air pollution

Air pollution is another major cause of lung disease in the UK, and it also contributes to a host of other health problems, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and probably type 2 diabetes and dementia as well. As a society and as individuals we need to do more to reduce air pollution, in particular by ditching diesel vehicles and adopting more healthy active forms of transport like walking and cycling. Here are some great resources about air pollution from the European Respiratory Society.

Exercise is a wonderdrug!

For most people getting more exercise is the best thing you can do to improve your health (perhaps quit smoking at the same time). Exercise is proven to improve asthma control and reduce symptoms from COPD. It may even slow the progression of COPD. Not only this, it reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and improves your mental health. Here’s a great short film on the subject (called 23 and a half hours, but the video is only a few minutes long!).

If you’re still breathless despite your treatment then I’d really recommend a course of pulmonary rehabilitation. This can make you feel better, help you cope with breathlessness and improve your fitness. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you’d like more information or for a referral.

Improving your inhaler technique

You probably think you know how to use your inhaler properly. Maybe you’ve been using it for years and feel patronised when asked. The reality is though, research trials repeatedly show inhaler technique is generally poor and deteriorates with time. Chances are your inhaler technique could be improved, to get more effective medication into your lungs, and less into your mouth and throat and ultimately your stomach where it causes side-effects without any beneficial effects.

If you haven’t had your inhaler technique checked recently, or your unsure how to use it ask for help at your GP practice. Information on effective inhaler technique is also available here at asthma UK website, and here are some instructional videos.

Changing to more environmentally friendly inhalers

If you use inhalers but are concerned about their environmental impact, it’s really important you don’t stop your inhalers just to reduce your carbon footprint. If you suffer an asthma attack, this will greatly increase your carbon footprint! Your doctor or nurse should be able to advise you on what inhalers may be best for you, so talk to them when you are next reviewed or make an appointment to discuss it. They should also assess whether or not you are able to use different types of inhalers effectively.

Learn more about changing to more environmentally-friendly inhalers here.