Supermarket retailer Asda announced last week that from today, it will be selling blue inhalers over the counter without prescription.

Asthma sufferers aged 16 or over will be able to buy two of “reliever” inhalers from in-store pharmacies for just £7; cheaper than the standard prescription charge of £7.65, according to Asda.

inhaler sold supermarket

Asda pharmacist Faisal Tuddy said in a statement: “Asthma is a condition that affects millions of UK residents and it can often prove to be stressful trying to book a GP appointment when your inhaler is running low.”

Customers will need to see a qualified pharmacist and fill in a questionnaire about their condition before buying the inhalers.

Would you know what to do in an emergency? Scroll down...

According to the BBC, customers will be limited to two inhalers at a time which will have to last them eight weeks.

According to Asthma UK, 1 in 12 adults are currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK.

Some of Team GB’s brightest gold medal hopefuls for 2012 have asthma, including Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.

Talking about his asthma, cyclist Bradley said in a statement: "It’s only a hindrance if you make it one – it does sound quite bad if you are diagnosed with asthma and your natural instinct is to think that’s it. But there is better medicine available now and I am an Olympic champion – the evidence is out there that you can succeed."

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest-tightness and difficulty in breathing.

Inhaled steroids are the most effective drugs for long-term control of asthma and prevention of exercise-induced asthma.

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  • Bradley Wiggins

    After winning the Tour De France 2012, Team GB has high hopes for cyclist Bradley Wiggins.

  • Rebecca Adlington

    Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington showing off the two gold medals she won in the women's 800 and 400 metres freestyle finals at the National Aquatics Centre in Beijing.

  • Paula Radcliffe

    The marathon runner arriving for the Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2011, at MediaCityUK, Salford, Manchester.

  • Joanne Jackson

    After making her Olympic debut as a 17-year old at the 2004 Games in Athens, Jo Jackson quickly established herself as a major force in international swimming, winning European and Commonwealth silver medals for the 400m Freestyle in 2006. Jackson continued her progression to the biggest stage in 2008, scooping 400m bronze in the Water Cube at the Olympic Games in Beijing. A year later, Jackson's lightning-fast form rolled on as she set a 400m Freestyle world record at the British Championships in March before clinching 400m and 800m Freestyle silvers at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.

  • Pete Reed

    The former Oxford Blue rower is the reigning Olympic Champion in the men's four, winning gold in Beijing in a thrilling race over Australia and France. He was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year's Honours list in recognition of his achievement.

  • Jo Davey

    Coming 5th in the 5000m in 14.57.87 in Athens, Jo won Commonwealth Games silver over the same distance in 2006 and placed 4th over 10000m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. She'll be representing Team GB in the Modern Pentathlon.

  • Michael Rimmer

    This runner made his Olympic debut at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He qualified for the men's 800 semi-finals and finished sixth.

  • Alex Gregory

    During the 2012 World Cup Season, Alex raced in the men's four with Tom James, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge. The newly formed rowing crew won gold in both Belgrade and Lucerne.

  • Tom James

    Tom, a former Cambridge Blue, is the reigning Olympic Champion in the men's four, winning gold in Beijing in a thrilling race over Australia and France. He was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year's Honours list in recognition of his achievements.

  • Mhairi Spence

    Mhairi produced the best performance of her life in Rome this year to become world champion and achieve the London 2012 Olympic qualifying standard for the Modern Pentathlon.

  • Craig Bellamy

    Craig Bellamy is the fifth highest scorer in Wales' football history with 19 goals in his 69 appearances. He is a former Wales captain and since making his professional debut for Norwich in 1997 he has played for a host of clubs in the Premier League including Coventry, Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham and Manchester City. He has also won the Scottish Cup with Celtic and this year he lifted the League Cup with Liverpool.

  • Euan Burton

    He was named judo's British Olympic Association Olympic Athlete of the Year in 2007 and is the most successful male member of the British team. Euan made his Olympic debut at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

  • Adam Gemili

    Just six months after devoting himself to the sport full-time, the 18-year-old former Chelsea youth-team player is preparing to run in the Olympics' blue riband event. Gemili sparked huge excitement earlier this month when he clocked 10.05 seconds to win the 100 metres at the World Junior Championships.

Asda say the decision to sell over-the-counter inhalers comes in response to customer feedback.

Cher Piddock, lead asthma nurse at Asthma UK, told the Daily Mail: "People with asthma will value being able to access inhalers more easily and pharmacists are a good source of advice about asthma medicines, so we’re interested to see how this will work."

Piddock also cautioned that anyone using their blue reliever more than twice a week might have out-of-control symptoms and urged Asda to be clear about their procedures to prevent misuse.

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  • What To Do If Someone Is Having An Asthma Attack

  • Step One

    Ask if they have their reliever inhaler (usually blue) and where it is. You may need to get it out of their bag for them.

  • Step Two

    Encourage them to take one to two puffs of their reliever inhaler.

  • Step Three

    Make sure they are sitting up.

  • Step Four

    Encourage them to take slow and steady breaths.

  • Step Five

    Keep them calm and reassure them.

  • Step Six

    If they are still not feeling better after two minutes they can take two puffs of their reliever again and continue to do so every two minutes (up to a maximum of 10 puffs).

  • Step Seven

    If they feel better, they should be OK to carry on with their day - but make sure they see a doctor as soon as possible (ideally the same day).

  • Step Eight

    If at any time you are worried about them, call an ambulance.

  • Step Nine

    If after 10 minutes they don't feel better and their inhaler doesn't seem to be helping them, then call an ambulance.

  • Step 10

    If the ambulance hasn't arrived after 10 minutes then the sufferer should repeat Step 6, until help arrives.