Living with Asthma
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a common lung condition, affecting over a million children in the UK and for Adults Adults:4.3 million adults (1 in 12). Asthma is an umbrella term that describes a number of symptoms resulting from the inflammation and irritation of the air passages. This leads to a temporary narrowing of the passages that carry oxygen to the lungs, making it difficult for the sufferer to breathe. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, persistent coughing, breathlessness and a feeling of tightness in the lungs.
The condition can be controlled with a combination of long-term control and quick-relief medications. However, thousands of people need emergency treatment for asthma each year, and 21 children died as a result of asthma in 2012.
5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: Asthma prevalence is thought to have plateaued since the late 1990s.
Did you know that the UK still has some of the highest rates of Asthma in Europe?
How can it be treated?
You will probably be prescribed a combination of inhalers – long-term steroids, such as Clenil, that are used as a preventative measure to keep asthma under control, and quick-relief inhalers such as Salbutamol, that provide immediate relief during an attack. In the past, spacers were predominantly given to children to help them use their inhalers correctly, but it is now considered good practice for adults to also use them. Spacers are plastic inhalation devices which allow the inhalers to work much more effectively.
Prednisolone is a common steroid for use after an asthma attack and is usually given as soluble tablets for a few days. Even if your asthma is well-controlled and you rarely have any symptoms, it is very important to attend an annual asthma review, usually with a nurse in your GP’s practice, to discuss your current treatment. Asthmatics are also entitled to a free flu jab every year.
Managing your daily life
Asthma is a chronic condition but there are times when it will be worse than others. If you are asthmatic this condition varies among individuals but common triggers are the common cold, hay fever in the spring and traffic pollution. Pet dander – the fur and skin cells shed by animals – is another common trigger. Noticing your personal triggers is an important part of managing your condition; as is observing the times you get breathless and increasing the number of times you use your inhaler before your asthma gets out of control.
Technology- A new smartphone app has been launched aimed at young people in London and is designed to help patients manage their condition by acting as a personal health record. It provides air pollution data, pollen counts and weather readings. as well as a peak flow tracker and a hospital visit record. A new smartphone app has been launched aimed at young people in London and is designed to help patients manage their condition by acting as a personal health record. It provides air pollution data, pollen counts and weather readings. as well as a peak flow tracker and a hospital visit record. For example, Asthma UK partnered on a European project called myAirCoach. It works to develop a system that helps people with this to manage their condition.
Two small changes to help you reduce your symptoms:
As long it is under control, almost all forms of exercise are absolutely fine. In fact, strengthening your lungs will reduce the risk of your symptoms returning, and boost your immune system making you less likely to catch Asthma-triggering coughs and colds.
However, if you are feeling wheezy or ‘chesty’ it’s best to wait until your medication gets things under control before engaging in any strenuous activity.
2. Lose weight
The link between weight loss and it has been widely observed but is not yet fully understood. Scientists believe that it could be related to the fact that losing weight reduces the strain placed on the lungs. If you are overweight and asthmatic, losing a few pounds can only be beneficial to your overall health.
If you suspect that you or your child have may have it, it is important to consult your own GP for medical advice. It is very important to attend an annual asthma review, usually with a nurse in your GP’s practice, to discuss your current treatment. Asthmatics in the UK are also entitled to a free flu jab every year.
For further information, you can also read our infographic about this.
Sources: Mylungsmylife.org, AsthmaOrg.UK, NHS