Shocking figures indicate that asthma care needs to be urgently reviewed. The Office Of National Statistics reported that 1,468 people died from asthma attacks in 2015 in the UK - this is a worrying increase of 21% compared to 2016. It would seem that the main cause of asthma deaths can be attributed to ineffective care rather than lack of funding. Kay Boycott of Asthma UK is quoted in the Express suggesting that, “The alarming increase in asthma deaths over the last decade is an urgent wake-up call to the government to take action to improve standards of asthma care now”. With asthma care costing £1.1 billion a year is vital that the money is used effectively to reduce fatal asthma attacks.
An asthma action plan is a useful document that you fill in with either your doctor or asthma nurse. It provides the following information:-
List of triggers. Next review date. GP/nurse contact details. Out of hours doctor services. Peak flow level. Name and dose of preventer inhaler. Name and dose of reliever inhaler. Other asthma medication. Symptoms that indicate when your asthma is getting worse. Action you can take to relieve your symptoms. Details about steroid tablets if you take them. Description of serious asthma attack. Action to be taken during an emergency.
The asthma action plan should be made readily available with multiple copies so that anyone involved in your care can access it easily. If you haven’t got an asthma action plan yet click on this link from Asthma Uk for a form you can complete during your next doctor’s appointment.
As with everything prevention is much better than a cure. The NHS Choices website give the following advice on how to control your asthma:-
Know your triggers and avoid them. Give up smoking. Have plenty of exercise. Own your asthma - be in control of it and know everything about it. Eat well - a good balanced diet will help you keep a healthy weight and keep you healthy. Get vaccinated - make sure your flu jabs are up to date. Avoid conflict with other medication - make sure that any painkillers you take don’t conflict with your asthma medication.
As with all illnesses you must make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you have asthma because symptoms can be similar to other illnesses. The main symptoms of asthma are; wheezing, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. Asthma tends to come and go because it is triggered by different circumstances. When you visit your doctor you will be asked if there is a family history of asthma and chest infections and heart disease will be discounted. You will have a Peak Flow test to test lung function and you may be given medication to open your airways to measure lung capacity. It takes longer to diagnose children because more observation is required to determine the cause of the symptoms.
If you have already been diagnosed with asthma and require medication then visit our asthma page for a consultation.