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Rhino7 profile image

hi I have just recently been diagnosed with asthma I take the brown inhaler twice in the morning and then twice at night. I have the blue one to. My question is when do I take the blue one and how often as am just learning about the condition any help would be much appreciated thanks 😊

32 Replies

HelloI am no expert as was only diagnosed with asthma last October.

I think that the blue one is probably your reliever inhaler, perhaps it is called ventolin or salamol? This is only to be used when you have an asthma attack.

I think that attacks can vary in now they look. For example, I cough a lot with an attack, but others might not. I also sometimes get bad chest pains. I always struggle to breathe with them.

Would be interesting to hear what attacks are like for other people.

Hi AlexInWiltshire,

Originally I wheezed but for many years it's rare for me to wheeze. I see this as a downward spiral as it is harder to release the phlegm from my chest and get relief. It becomes hard for me to breathe and I struggle to breathe in. It's an effort. Then when I take the ventolin, my breathing eases up and I take more until I am breathing easily. If I have a chest infection, this struggle stays until the chest infection begins to ease. With a chest infection, I do hear (and feel) the rattle of the mucus. However sometimes, even with a bad chest infection, my breathing is still silent and laboured.

I also get a cough with asthma but it is usually when I get cold. I can be engaged with something and then I begin to cough. It is only then that I realize that I am cold. I warm myself up and the cough/asthma goes away. Although sometimes I need to use ventolin.

Hi I cough a lot especially at night or first thing In the morning brown inhaler is keeping symptoms at bay I think 💭 but like I say am only learning about the condition

The idea is that the brown inhaler (the preventer) is taken regularly in order to control symptoms. And the blue inhaler (rescue/reliever inhaler) is taken when symptoms occur, when you feel wheezy or short of breath. Ideally that would be no more than twice a week. If you need to use the blue inhaler more often then you need to see your doctor as the preventer isn't doing its job and you may need additional doses or a different preventer inhaler.

It may be a good idea to have a chat to one of the Asthma UK nurses about your concerns. They are excellent and can explain what your expectations should be in terms of your inhalers, symptoms to take action on and anything else you wish to know. 0300 222 5800, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

All the best.

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to Poobah

Thank you I have booked in to see the asthma nurse tomorrow to ask a few questions as I think 💭 my job on farms sets of my asthma ie dust in the air thanks again

Mandevilla profile image
Mandevilla in reply to Rhino7

If you still don't feel confident after speaking to the asthma nurse at your surgery, do give the Asthma UK helpline a ring as Poobah suggests. I'd be lost without it as my surgery is no use at all.

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to Mandevilla

I will keep it in mind thank you for your help

peege profile image
peege in reply to Rhino7

Rhino, as you work on a farm you really need to avoid the actions that can stir up mould spores which are more prolific on farms, compost heaps and dead leaves. It's because some asthmatics are allergic to the aspergillus mould - an allergy test should confirm or rule out this allergy. Its annoying that health professionals never warn about this.I really don't want to alarm you absolutely NOT every asthmatic has this allergy just to beware and wear a mask sometimes at work.

Good luck, a new diagnosis is the beginning of a huge learning curve, knowledge, the right medication for you and understanding your own triggers are the keys to looking after yourself & avoiding chest infections. P

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to peege

I have spoke to my boss he is getting me a air filled mask 😷 and trying to give me other jobs on the farm he is very understanding

peege profile image
peege in reply to Rhino7

That's great

Tbh you shouldn’t need it at all, you should consult your our nurse or GP I’d have worsening symptoms and this may be when you need use to relieve any tightness you feel and need to get air in.Do you have a written asthma action plan as this should contain all the details of what to use and when

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to Key2success

I have no written plan I will ask the gp tomorrow thank u for your help

The brown ones should reduce the overall illness and therefore the need to use the blue BUT - everyone has days when the reliever is needed - whether that is weather or anything else related - just keep a mental note of how often you need the blue and tell the doctor as it will affect the preventer you need - in a way it is a measure of how efective the brown one is for you - some people hardly ever need the blue whereas I often need the odd top up / immediate hit of the blueChris

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to Watforddogs

Thank you for your help I will ask my go tomorrow

Lysistrata profile image

Hi and welcome! As others have said the blue inhaler is for symptoms - but not just for dire emergencies when YOU are turning blue! I say this because I see some people posting on here who are new to asthma and this hasn't been explained to them - they're left with the impression that it's like an epipen, only for very limited circumstances or severe attacks. This is definitely not the case - don't wait till you're really struggling to take it.

You should not *need* to take the blue reliever more than 2-3x a week - that counts even if you feel you need it but for some reason didn't take it. I say this because it's often not made clear that the main concern is how often you're having symptoms, rather than about 'overdosing' on the inhaler. I've also seen people on here worried they will overdose if they take it more than 4x in a day, but actually the concern there is that your asthma is very poorly controlled if you need it 4x a day or more and you should be seeing your GP urgently.

As Poobah has said if you are needing the blue more than that then your preventer may need adjusting and you should see your GP/asthma nurse - though it does usually take a few weeks for the preventer to kick in after you start it.

These posts may help you:

When do I...?

New to asthma:

You haven't mentioned it but since peak flow is bound to be mentioned, this post may also help (key message with peak flow is that it's about YOUR best and what YOU can do, not the average or what someone else can do):

I also agree with others that you should call the nurse helpline on the number Poobah has provided, if you have any questions or you're not sure about what your GP or asthma nurse have said.

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to Lysistrata

Thank u for all of your advice I will look 👀 in to getting a peak flow and see if it helps to keep a check on my asthma

That's worrying. I have 3-5 asthma attacks on a normal week. This week is worse, I assume due to the heatwave.

I had two bad attacks yesterday and four today (using my reliever 12 times so far today). I phoned my GP yesterday concerned about the number of attacks that are now normal for me. He said keep to the new meds (montelukast), which I started 3 days ago, and there is no need to phone the GP or asthma nurse week time that I have an attack. But I spoke to the Asthma UK advice line just before I called the GP and she said that my attacks are a concern and I should let the GP know every time. 😬

I am on a 40 week waiting list to see the Resp dept at the hospital! How am I meant to cope?

I am new to asthma but this doesn't seem right. Any advice will be welcome, thank you.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to AlexInWiltshire

It does sound like you're poorly controlled at the moment, needing a lot of Ventolin. Did the AUK nurse have any advice besides letting the GP know? It will take a bit of time for the montelukast to kick in and you should definitely keep at it, but sometimes a short course of steroids is needed to tide things over.

As you're new to asthma, you may find the links in my earlier reply to this post helpful. This Asthma UK advice might also be useful:

You can also always ring the Asthma UK nurses again now you've spoken to your GP, and discuss what they said and how you can proceed.

Thank you, the asthma nurse did say to take 10 reliever inhaler puffs during an attack, and if still struggling to call an ambulance. I have been on montelukast for a week now and seeing no improvement, in fact today I am very bad with asthma: unusual for a non-work day.

I jave had to use blue reliever inhaler 14 times today and still feel ill, have chest pains and my PF is 320 (highest I ever had was 500 .)

What is the maximum number of times that you can take reliever in a day please?) I am starting to worry and really don't want to have tomorrow off sick as my manager is already upset with me because the asthma attacks are apparently stopping me from doing my job properly! 😟

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to AlexInWiltshire

I would follow the Asthma UK advice

If your reliever isn't working or lasting and/or you're too breathless to speak, eat or sleep then you need to head to hospital

It sounds difficult with your work but asthma is covered under the Equality Act and your manager is out of order! Are you in a union?

Thank you, I am in a union and that is being looked into now.

The thing is that I can walk, talk and eat, it's just that it's dfficult to do so, and I don't want to waste NHS time if I am not actually that poorly.

It's hard to know as I have never seen someone have a bad attack and need hospital, so I have nothing to measure it against. I have been this bad for weeks, feeling fatigued coughing and breathless, plus struggling to keep going at work. But, I don't think that I am poorly enough for a 999 call?

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to AlexInWiltshire

It is difficult (I call this limbo!) but I would say you need to do something to stop it getting to the point of 999 if you aren't there. If nothing else, urgent GP appt or 111 - what you're on now may just need time to kick in but you're struggling now and shouldn't just be left to it.

Is it hard to get a GP appointment? The one you have currently seems happy to leave things as they are, and while I agree that you need to give drugs time to work (montelukast can take a few weeks), there's a balance with not letting things be too awful before they do. Would seeing a different GP help? Either way though I think you need to be seen soon.

Thank you for your reply.It depends on the day who you speak to at the GP surgery, some are excellent and others not. Also it is allowing about an hour at 8am or 12, ro call the GP and wait in the queue. On my work days, I would definitely not be allowed to make this call. I jave been told in no uncertain terms that I am only to make medical calls and appts, even if urgent, on my non working days. That means waiting until Thursday now.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to AlexInWiltshire

I'm not an expert but I have a strong sense that may not be legal! Others on here may know the specifics but it seems very dodgy to me especially with a condition that falls under the Equality Act, especially when surely you could do at least some in your lunch break?

I'm not sure how to advise you on the work side of things really but perhaps 111/out of hours this evening, as you are struggling nut not sure it's 999?

Thank you.

"the blue inhaler is for symptoms - but not just for dire emergencies when YOU are turning blue!... don't wait till you're really struggling to take it."

This is such important advice for asthma newbies. Being told by my GP that I shouldn't need to take the blue inhaler if my asthma is properly controlled, at first I was avoiding using it until I was gulping for air like a goldfish!

I've found that if I take it as soon as I feel the need (and thank you to the Asthma UK nurses who explained that was the right thing to do!), I end up needing it much less overall. When I was delaying, it was like my lungs got so irritated that it didn't take much to set them off again and I'd need maybe 12 puffs over the next 2-3 days before things calmed down. But if I use the blue as soon as I feel discomfort, it usually calms everything right down and I'm much less likely to need further doses - or if I do, it's maybe 1 or 2 more puffs instead of 12.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to Mandevilla

Ha yes - even as very much not a newbie I can struggle with this. In my case I know what to do, I advise others what to do but I have a lot of baggage from being told I take it too much (because my asthma is poorly controlled and I know it and can't do much in my case). Or that I shouldn't reach for it and I don't know my body and I'm not capable of managing my asthma at all because I'm not a doctor (such helpful messages, not).

While I know that overuse does happen, that not all breathlessness in people is asthma and that I can't guarantee I have needed it every single time I ever used it, I suspect that many instances of overuse are probably linked to poor control issues.

I also know that the guilt-tripping about using it is unnecessary and like you, in my case if I ignore the need it gets worse later and I need more than if I had taken 2 puffs more promptly. And generally it helps! A respiratory physio once compared it to pain relief - for most people (complex chronic pain issues aside as I don't know enough about that), it's easier to get on top of pain and takes less medication if you address it promptly.

I don't think it helps either that I over-absorbed the 'don't take unnecessary medication' message, so I have to be in agony before I'll swallow a single paracetamol. Making the switch to using my inhaler BEFORE I reach the point of collapse, not after, has been quite hard as it goes against a lifetime habit.

Hi 👋 welcome to the ‘asthma club!’. Now I’m no expert but I do know about my own asthma. I had it since a baby now I’m 58. Old, I know 🤣.

I also have blue and brown inhalers.

I use my brown every day in the morning as a preventative measure to keep down the long term inflammation some asthmatics ( probably most, if not all ) suffer from.

My blue inhaler is for when I need it for example if I feel short of breath or wheezing, my asthma symptoms if you will. I use it more if I have a virus as I’m usually coughing more.

If you have the brown inhaler working as desired, this hopefully means you won’t ( hopefully 🙏 ) need to use your blue inhaler too often. If you are, then your preventative measures need ‘tweaking’ and your nurse/GP will hopefully be helping you to monitor this.

Hope you soon learn how to manage your life and asthma, and enjoy yourself. Properly managed you can still lead a full life. Some sports personalities have successful careers along with their asthma so hopefully not will hold you back !

( I’m 58 and am competing in a 10k race for the first time in August and it’s thanks to my controlled asthma condition I’m able to train albeit with care, avoiding pollution for example.).


Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to rachelmi

Thank u for the info I have learnt a lot from u all I will keep taking my brown inhaler as requested by my gp

peege profile image
peege in reply to Rhino7

PS its also an idea to rinse & gargle with water after taking in halers if you can - many of us do that! P

Rhino7 profile image
Rhino7 in reply to peege

I have been doing this as nurse told me u could get thrush in the mouth but thanks for the advice

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