May 8, 2021

Wicklow asthma sufferers have third highest rate for overuse of reliever inhaler in the country

Over 45% of asthma sufferers who have been diagnosed for more than five years in Wicklow overuse use their inhaler, new  research has found.

The Asthma Society of Ireland  has released research by hmR Ireland which looks at the over-reliance on reliever inhaler medication by people with asthma in each county in the country.

The research comes following the tragic passing of Sean ‘Seany’ O’Keeffe Hempenstall (pictured) from an asthma attack.

The Bray Institute of  Further Education student, who was from Bray originally but lived in Gorey, died at the age of 19 on February 14. There is no suggestion that Mr O’Keeffe Hempenstall overused his inhaler.

Reliever inhalers, which most people will recognise as the blue inhalers, if over-used, are strongly linked with severe asthma and asthma related deaths.

Using three or more reliever inhalers a year indicates a person is at risk of a severe asthma exacerbation while the use of twelve or more a year is an indication someone is at risk of an asthma-related death.

In the year of diagnosis, Wicklow had the third highest rate of reliever inhaler overuse in the country at 21%.

In the year after diagnosis, that number nearly doubled to 38% of people who overused their reliever inhaler.

By year five, 46% of people with asthma in Wicklow were overusing their reliever inhaler.

The results also found:

  • Three-in-ten use more than 12 reliever inhalers a year, putting them at risk of an asthma-related death
  • Seven-in-ten are using more than three reliever inhalers a year, putting them at risk of an asthma attack (or some form of asthma exacerbation)
  • In the year after diagnosis, 30% children aged 0-17 are overusing their reliever inhaler
  • In the year after diagnosis, 60% people aged 50 or over are overusing their reliever inhaler

“Today’s hmR research revealed that a huge proportion of people in all age groups are overusing their reliever inhalers in every county throughout Ireland, putting them at risk of an asthma severe exacerbation or asthma related death,” Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said.

“If you are using your reliever inhaler several times each week, you are over-reliant on it and your asthma is not controlled. The exception to this is people with asthma who participate in sport/exercise, where it is still recommended you use your reliever inhaler prior to warming up before exercising.”


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