Asthma is a very common long-term condition caused by inflammation of the airways – in fact, according to Asthma UK, it affects over 5 million people in the UK, with over 1 million children suffering with the tell-tale coughing, breathlessness and wheezing.
Usually diagnosed in childhood, airways become super-sensitive and tighten when something such as pollen or animal fur irritates them. It can leave people living with asthma struggling to breathe, which can be as concerning for those watching as the person wheezing.
Sadly, asthma isn’t curable, but it is very treatable – and a lot of children grow out of it. The key is to understand what your – or your child’s – triggers are. This can include anything from cigarette smoke, to stress, or house mites. While it’s still not known what the cause of asthma is, it’s important to get an early diagnosis.
Once you’ve got a firm diagnosis, often patients will be prescribed a ‘preventer’ inhaler to be used twice daily to stop attacks happening, and also a blue Ventolin ‘reliever’ inhaler for quick relief if an attack does strike. If you know you’re going to be exposed to triggers – a family with a hair-shedding dog, for instance – you can use it 10-15 minutes in advance to protect you.
Being rigorous about using your preventer inhaler regularly can stop you having to reach for your reliever inhaler too much, which should be avoided. If you are good about regularly using your preventer, but still find yourself reaching for your reliever, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Dosage of medicine is also very important, and again a pharmacist can offer free, confidential advice on that front too. It’s very useful to come up with an asthma action plan so there’s no grey area on what needs to be done to stay as healthy as possible. Never suffer in silence, because help is always there for you and family.
Remember, in the majority of cases there should be absolutely no reason why asthma should hold you back. Elite sports people from David Beckham to Paula Radcliffe have asthma, and many claim their asthma actually made them want to prove they could still compete.
We are proud supporters of the British Lung Foundation. Find out more about asthma and other lung conditions on their website: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you