Asthma UK has produced findings that asthma is on the rise in the UK. Currently, around 5.4 million people in the UK suffer from asthma, and quick survey around the office showed that 24% of the iHASCO staff have asthma and a further 10% suffered from asthma as a child.
What is Asthma?
When you breathe, small tubes called bronchi carry air in and out of your lungs. In a person with asthma, these tubes are inflamed and very sensitive. An asthma attack is when the lining of the bronchi walls start to swell and tighten, restricting the airways and stopping the person from being able to breathe properly. Mucus can also be released, making it even HARDER to breathe. Preventative medication can help by reducing inflammation and sensitivity.
This helps to CONTROL asthma and reduces the chance of an asthma attack but asthma can be fatal and unfortunately, scenarios, where asthma has become untreatable, are not uncommon.
Therefore, you can see why it is important to know how to respond in an emergency.
Five key things you should know about Asthma:
- What causes asthma?
- It can be genetic. For example, if there’s a history of asthma or other allergies such as hay fever or eczema in the family.
- It can be environmental, such as air pollution or chlorine in swimming pools.
- It can be the result of a child’s mother smoking during pregnancy, or if a child is often inhaling second-hand smoke.
- It can also be caused if a child is born prematurely, especially if they needed a ventilator to help them breathe, OR if a child had a low birth weight because of restricted growth in the womb.
- It can also be caused because a child suffered from bronchiolitis as a baby.
- The first thing a doctor will do is a Peak Flow test. You blow as hard as you can into a hand-held device called a peak flow meter. It measures how quickly you can blow the air out of your lungs.
- GPs can also take a Watch and Wait approach to diagnosing asthma.
- UK medical guidelines recommend a Trial of Treatment before you can be diagnosed with asthma. If the medication relieves the symptoms, it’s very likely they have asthma.
An asthma trigger is something that causes asthma symptoms to develop in the first place. Triggers can be different in EVERYONE with asthma. Some people will have allergic triggers and some will have non-allergic triggers. It’s also common to have a mixture of BOTH.
Long-term control medicines are taken every day to prevent symptoms and attacks. Generally in the form of an inhaler.
- Emergency techniques
If someone is showing asthma symptoms and they don’t have an inhaler close by, they may panic and start to breathe rapidly. It’s a good idea to keep them calm and focused on their breathing whilst someone finds their inhaler - or calls emergency services depending on the situation.