Colds and flu have overtaken sex as the number one most viewed asthma trigger on the Asthma UK website for the first time since the updated site went live, 3 years ago.
There is no doubt that the recent outbreak of flu is behind the change, widely reported to have depleted workforces across the country in the first week back to the office. But this titillating stat does highlight what can otherwise be a serious problem for people with asthma with 90% reporting colds and flu as a trigger. Combined with current freezing temperatures, which three quarters of the 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK say makes their asthma worse, the current cold snap is a potential recipe for disaster.
Help is at hand however, as Vikki Knowles, asthma nurse specialist at Asthma UK, says there are several steps people with asthma can take which should help them take control of their asthma throughout the winter. She advises the following precautions :
– Keep taking your regular medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t be tempted to stop taking them because you’ve stopped having symptoms
– If you know that cold air triggers your asthma, take a couple of puffs of your reliever inhaler before going outside
– Keep your blue reliever inhaler with you at all times, you never know when you might need it
– Wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth – this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in
– Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes and take a couple of puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start.
Further information can be found at asthma.org.uk, which includes a service called ‘Asthma Triggers Tips’ which after a few simple questions can provide a tailored advice about people’s personal triggers and how to manage them.
Vikki also recommends that people with asthma have a written personal asthma action plan, ‘This is a plan which should be completed by your doctor or asthma nurse in discussion with you, and contains the information you need to control your asthma’. Vikki continues ‘This should include information about your asthma medication, key things to tell you when your asthma is getting worse and what you should do about it, as well as emergency information on what to do if you have an asthma attack’.
‘It is important to make sure you have your asthma reviewed at least once a year – sooner if your symptoms are getting worse or you have severe asthma.’
The Asthma UK Adviceline is also available if people want independent, confidential advice about asthma. It is staffed by asthma nurse specialists and is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 08457 01 02 03. Alternatively, the asthma nurses can be emailed at http://www.asthma.org.uk/adviceline.
1. Asthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the 5.4 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma.
2. If you are worried about your asthma or would just like to talk confidentially to a specialist asthma nurse, the Asthma UK Adviceline offers independent advice about asthma and provides a translation service in more than 100 languages. It is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 08457 01 02 03 or alternatively you can email an asthma nurse at http://www.asthma.org.uk/adviceline.
3. Our website asthma.org.uk also provides useful information including frequently asked questions in a number of South Asian languages including Arabic, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu and Punjabi