Researchers in Sydney found that 39% of surveyed patients with asthma used what researchers call the “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” option to treat their condition.

“A quarter of patients who opted to use the reliever only, and no preventer medication, were forced to seek last-minute treatment for a dangerous flare-up in their condition,” says Professor Helen Reddel, lead author of the study, which was published in BMJ Open.

“This is hard proof that people who choose to only treat symptoms as they arise, without also treating the underlying condition, run a very real risk of winding up in hospital.”