As the weather heats up and pollen levels rise, health experts at Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group are advising people who suffer from asthma how best to manage their condition this summer.
Around 5.4 million people in the UK suffer from asthma (1) – that’s one in every 11 people and one in five households. On average there are three children with asthma in every UK classroom - the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide. For a quarter of a million people with severe asthma, even climbing the stairs can feel like a marathon, never mind going outside their home.
The asthma rate for Basildon and Brentwood is slightly higher than the UK average (2) standing at 6.31 per cent of people registered at local GP practices in 2015. Last year there were 190 emergency hospital admissions locally as a result of asthma, compared to 166 emergency admissions in 2014.
Dr Ken Wrixon, respiratory pathway lead for Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s really important for those who have a long term condition such as asthma to really understand it. By taking responsibility for your own health and following medical advice, you can lead a more fulfilling life. Knowing the triggers and managing your condition can also mean fewer admissions to hospital so you can really enjoy time with friends and family without having to worry.”
Research shows there are two key things, as an asthma sufferer, you can do to reduce the effect of asthma triggers:
Firstly, manage your asthma as much as possible. This means taking preventer medication as prescribed. Most of the time you won’t even know it’s working, but it is and it helps reduce your body’s reaction to triggers. Keeping a note of the circumstances of when you have an attack means you can work with your GP or asthma nurse to put together an action plan. Regular reviews can make sure you’re taking exactly the right medication.
Secondly, understand your triggers. When you know your triggers you can work with your GP or asthma nurse on the best way to stop them causing symptoms. Obvious triggers start within minutes of coming into contact with your trigger. Other triggers aren’t as easy to pinpoint and can sometimes be a delayed reaction. If you can’t work out why you’re having an attack keep a diary of everywhere you go and what you were doing. This will help you spot patterns so the right treatment can be agreed.
Take time to explain your condition to loved ones. Tell them about your condition, the medications you have and what they can do to help. Then should you suffer an attack they will know exactly what to do. If you know someone with asthma take time to understand the symptoms. Ask them about their triggers and medication and whether there’s anything you can do to help.
The guidance also applies to parents of children with asthma and anyone caring for someone suffering from the condition.
If you have any concerns about your condition, or your child’s condition, it’s important to talk to your GP or asthma nurse so they can review your/their health care plan.