When Asthma Can Kill You

Death rates from asthma are reaching an all-time high in the UK.  This is a huge concern as the rest of Europe has a much tighter grip on the condition than we do. The question is why do we have 50% more fatal attacks than our European counterparts?  Experts suggest the reason is due to medical professionals lacking the necessary knowledge and people managing the condition badly.

Everyone underestimates the dangers of the condition and assumes that it is just like a panic attack or a touch of hypochondria.  This ignorance is costing lives 1,500 in 2015 in fact. There are 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK and the number is rising annually.  It is a serious respiratory disease with genetic and environmental causes. Treatment involves inhalers and an annual asthma plan but is it enough to prevent fatal attacks.

Scientific American suggests that the increase in asthma cases over the last three decades is due to our obsession with cleanliness.  Our obsession with eradicating germs and destroying both good and bad bacteria is decreasing our tolerance to allergens. However, studies in America show that there is an increase in the condition in areas that are less scrupulous.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Other theories suggest our inactive lifestyles play a part in incidences of the condition.  Lack of exercise weakens our lungs making them more susceptible to attacks. Again this does not explain why some Olympic athletes overcome the condition to win gold medals.  Doctors encourage people with the condition to participate in mild to moderate exercise. Exercise is a trigger for asthma for some people so they have to avoid too much physical exertion.

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Triggers

Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown there are definite triggers preceding an attack.  Everyone's triggers are different but here are the main ones; allergies, family history, childhood lung infections, smoking/exposure to smoking, flu/colds, the weather, stress or exercise.  Asthma plans help sufferers to monitor the condition in order to avoid triggers and keep track of their overall health. Doctors encourage patients to make an appointment if their symptoms are getting worse.

Different Types Of Asthma

As with all conditions people have different extremes of asthma.  Some people hardly have symptoms at all and manage the condition successfully using inhalers.  Others have it more frequently and have to be vigilant. There are cases of the condition that don’t respond to inhalers and this is the most worrying. People with severe asthma are unable to breathe properly and require medical intervention these cases are similar to other chronic lung conditions.  If you have it severely you are at greater risk of hospital admission. This doesn’t mean that people with mild cases are not at risk of having a more serious attack.

People with the condition must take responsibility for managing their asthma and cooperate with doctors who will offer advice.  Keep your asthma plan up to date and visit your doctor regularly. There are so many different reasons people have the condition each course of action needs to be bespoke to the needs of each individual.

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By Parv Sagoo (May 2018)