Asthma and Respiratory

Please see our free downloadable Factsheets at bottom of this page for more information about asthma and other respiratory conditions.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common and long term lung condition that requires ongoing management. Asthma causes sensitivity to the airways, which can become inflamed and narrow on exposure to certain triggers, leading to difficulty in breathing.

The symptoms of asthma commonly starts in childhood but it is possible to develop asthma at any age.  This condition cannot be cured, but with a good asthma action plan it can be well controlled.

What causes asthma?

Asthma symptoms are individual to each person and can come and go, it is possible to have one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Shortness of breath / breathing
  • Cough (day or night)
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so if you suspect you may have asthma you should see your GP.

What happens in an asthma attack?

In an asthma attack the muscles around your airways can become swollen and inflamed with increased mucus production resulting in one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, experiencing a wheeze, blue colour to the lips and feeling distressed.

Managing an asthma attack

  1. Immediately take 1 puff of your asthma inhaler, repeating 1 puff, if required, every 30-60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs
  2. Try to remain calm and sit upright (this allows you to breathe easier)
  3. If you feel worse, or do not feel any better after 10 puffs call an ambulance (this ensures medical help is on its way)
  4. If the ambulance takes longer than 15 minutes to arrive then repeat step 1.

For advice and information on how to manage your asthma and asthma treatment, please download one of our useful Factsheets.

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Did you know there is a link between allergy and asthma?

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Indoor air quality & why it matters

Many of the allergens that cause an allergic reaction can be found in our own homes (and even our place of work). House dust mites, for example, are tiny creatures, just a quarter of a millimetre long. House dust mite allergy is very common and associated with asthma, eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis. Mites are found in carpets, soft furnishing and clothing but a significant amount of exposure to house dust mite allergens happens in bed.  You can take measures to avoid house dust mite, which will help, but will not entirely remove dust mite allergens.

Mould is another culprit.  It is the spores from the mould that can trigger allergic symptoms such as runny/itchy nose, itchy eyes, eczema and, most importantly, asthma. There are ways to avoid moulds – ventilation is key to help stop moulds flourishing in a damp environment.

Outdoor air quality & why it matters

Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity.

It makes people more susceptible to respiratory infections and other illnesses and it can have a significant impact on those living with allergies. There is a proven link between the quality of the air we breathe and the health of people living with allergic disease. Sensitivity to the adverse effects of air pollutants will vary in individuals and air pollution levels will also vary seasonally, from day to day, as well as by the time of day.

Asthma and Respiratory Factsheets

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