If you are living with a respiratory illness or caring for someone who is, then you'll know only too well how debilitating life can be.

Respiratory illnesses are costing both the NHS and industry huge amounts of money each year. 24 million working days are lost annually from COPD with £3.8 billion lost through reduced productivity. COPD is the second most common cause of emergency admissions to hospital and one of the most costly inpatient conditions treated by the NHS.1

Asthma costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion each year, with 80% of funds spent on treating those 20% with the severest symptoms. There are around 1000 deaths a year from asthma, but over 90% of those are preventable. As with COPD, asthma is also responsible for large numbers of hospital admissions, the majority of which are emergencies.1

During March 2015, and to coincide with our NHS Choices online clinic on respiratory health, talkhealth conducted a survey to find out more about the day to day issues of living with respiratory conditions. We wanted to understand more about the patients behind these statistics.

Results of the talkhealth respiratory survey 2015 covering asthma, COPD, IPF69% of those we surveyed were living with respiratory problems and 31% were carers of someone with the condition. Over two-thirds have asthma, with others citing they have COPD, IPF and other respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea, bronchitis, emphysema and pulmonary embolism.

Controlling the symptoms of respiratory disease is the key, largely through the use of inhalers. Over 80% of our survey respondents use an inhaler with 56% using both a preventer and a reliever. A further 12% use a combination inhaler. Combination inhalers contain two medications in one device - an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and a long-acting beta-2 agonist (LABA).2

Of those using a combination inhaler, over two-thirds switched because their healthcare professional recommended a switch, and around a quarter switched because they were struggling to control their symptoms. Convenience was also cited as a reason for switching. What is significant is almost 90% of those who switched to a combination inhaler believed they had benefitted by switching.

In addition, patients and carers want to know more about the correct use of inhalers and the importance of using inhalers to control symptoms. As one participant said:

“I think it is vitally important that when diagnosed with asthma that a parent or person with the condition fully understands how to use an inhaler and which inhalers are used for either control or relief and the importance of using a controller inhaler regularly as prescribed.” anonymous


1 NHS - An Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma

2 NICE Guidelines - Asthma

Based on 187 fully completed surveys.


If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.