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Be clear on asthma: don’t let it control your life

Asthma is a long-term lung condition, which if managed well with self-care can be kept under control. There are a number of treatments available to minimise the symptoms.

With World Asthma Day taking place on 2 May, doctors NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are encouraging local residents to be aware of the treatments available. Asthma is a common condition, and while the severity varies for each person, it generally improves over time with the help of daily medication.

The main symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and, in more severe cases, asthma attacks. Exercising is a common trigger for asthma which is why it is essential to carry your medication with you at all times.

The main treatments include reliever inhalers, which control the symptoms of the condition on a short-term basis, and preventer inhalers, which should be taken every day. They are designed to prevent the symptoms of asthma occurring in the first place.

If you suffer from asthma, it is important to develop a personal action plan with your doctor, outlining the medication you use, what to do if you have an asthma attack, and how to monitor your condition.

Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG said:

“Although there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments available to reduce the symptoms, helping the majority of people to live a normal, active life.

“If you think you may have asthma, visit your GP. You will need to take a simple breathing test to determine whether you have the condition or not.”

Dr Stuart Berry, Respiratory Lead at NHS East Lancashire CCG said:

“World Asthma Day is an opportunity for us to talk about Asthma and how to live better with it.

First the serious bit...

Asthma UK estimates that there is someone having a life-threatening asthma attack every 10 seconds, with 3 people dying from an asthma attack every day in the UK. The last review into asthma deaths (NRAD 2014) highlighted some areas for improvement in asthma care.

Only 1 in 5 of the people who had died from an asthma attack had needed to attend hospital for help with their asthma in the past year. Most of the people who died from an asthma attack were described as having mild to moderate asthma . Or to put it another way – please don’t underestimate how bad your asthma is (or the asthma of one of your friends)

Now the lighter bit....

So Asthma is serious – that is very true - but you can learn to live better with it so long as it is well controlled with the help of your asthma nurse, pharmacist , GP , friends and colleagues – Asthma doesn’t have to have a big effect on your life.

The Asthma UK website has some great advice about how to live better with asthma e.g. it includes tips about how exercise can help you live better with your asthma. “

The key messages that I would like to get across on world asthma day are these;

• Check you know how to use your inhaler – you can ask your pharmacist to check your technique

• Ask your practice asthma nurse to give you your own Asthma Action Plan, and take a photo of it on your smartphone so that you can easily find it again.

• It’s a danger sign if you are needing your reliever (blue) inhaler more than 3 times a week. Speak to your Nurse, GP or Pharmacist for advice. Don’t put it off. Let your GP practice receptionist know that you are having a flare up of     asthma and need to see or speak with someone today.

• Make sure you get to see your asthma nurse for an annual review every year – don’t put it off – it could save your life.

• Make sure your GP practice has your mobile phone number – most practices use a text message reminder service - let them know your phone number if it changes.

https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/living-with-asthma/exercise-and-activities/

https://www.asthma.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/publications/nrad-one-year-on/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4487386/tt

It is important to follow your personal action plan to control the symptoms of asthma. You will also need to attend yearly consultations see whether your asthma is improving over time, with your practice nurse to review your plan and check your inhaler technique.

Children and young people should share their plan with their family, friends, school or college so everyone can look after them.

People who suffer from asthma should always carry an inhaler with them, including at school or college, especially when doing physical activities, including sports, just in case they start to get wheezy. If you use a spacer device, it is important to understand how to use it correctly and how to look after it.

If you have any questions about asthma and keeping well, you can speak to your GP, Asthma Nurse or Pharmacist. You can also speak to an Asthma Nurse on the Asthma UK Helpline, Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm on 0300 222 5800.

Those aged 12 and over can complete the asthma attack risk checker, which is designed for people with the condition and shows whether they are at risk of an attack.

To find out more about the treatments and support available, view the NHS Choices website. There are also lots of helpful resources for all ages on the Asthma UK website including information about how to manage your asthma and what to do if you have an asthma attack.