Asthma is a highly common condition in the UK with around 5.4 million people known to experience it. Despite being a widespread condition, with it affecting people in about 1 in every 5 addresses in the UK, asthma is still not entirely understood, even by people that experience the condition themselves. The number of cases of asthma in the UK has been rising in recent years and, although some suggestions have been made as to the reason, researchers are not yet absolutely certain why it is – some have suggested poor lifestyle and increased air pollutants but the truth is that there are likely to be a combination of factors. It is also worth noting that, because not everyone with the condition has been diagnosed, the numbers may be higher than realised, with the severity of the condition having the potential to vary considerably from person to person.
Although it is mostly treatable, asthma can lead to severely bad health if not treated or dealt with correctly. It is estimated that around three quarters of hospital admissions for asthma are avoidable and that as many as 90% of the deaths from asthma are preventable. For those reasons alone, it is important that people increase their awareness of the condition – studies and statistics do suggest that, even with the condition being as known about as it is, there could be much more done. As numbers increase it likely to become more important, and as the condition has some hereditary causality, it is likely that the condition will be passed on to more and more people and so the need to deal with it correctly will continue to rise.
Additionally, it is important because there are likely to be people who the have condition without realising – as the symptoms of asthma can vary considerably it is thought that many people have it without ever realising; if they have never had an attack or noticed any labours in their breathing as being unusual then it is possible that they may be entirely unaware of experiencing it. The main issue here is, of course, that this can potentially lead to danger down the line; if their symptoms are usually mild and pass without being noticed then a sudden attack or severe occurrence could catch a person unawares and lead to genuine harm or danger. For that reason it is important that we learn to recognise and diagnose the condition without the more obvious and traditional signs, especially as the condition becomes more and more common.
The NHS and Asthma UK suggest that everyone who has asthma develops a personal plan to deal with their condition if symptoms begin to occur – promoting the benefits of these asthma action plans and ensuring that medication is provided where necessary is likely to make up a large part of managing asthma in the UK in the coming years. These Asthma Action Plans are important because managing symptoms or an attack is different for everyone who has the condition – what works for them may not work for someone else and vice versa, therefore it is vital that the plan is developed so that the person, and those around them, know how to proceed in the event of an attack.
Although, as mentioned, the number of people with asthma in the UK is rising there is not too much call for panic. As mentioned already, most hospital visits and death as a result of asthma are preventable and, indeed, the condition is very manageable if dealt with correctly. As it becomes more common it is important that people understand what may trigger their condition and that they know how to react if and when they are triggered. Having their correct asthma medication inhalers and preventers to hand is of vital importance and can, in most cases, stop the symptoms from persisting. Additionally, it is important that other people know how to react if they witness a person having an attack – there have been instances documented where people have not known what to do and this is something that, if the condition does continue to become more common, needs to be understood and managed.