Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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Most people are aware that asthma is a very common condition in the UK, but new figures released by Asthma UK have suggested that the problem could be even more serious than we thought. The charity has revealed that growing numbers of people are suffering from serious asthma attacks every year.

Asthma Attacks More Common Than We Thought

How Common Are Asthma Attacks?

Asthma UK consulted more than 10,000 people who are living with asthma in the UK and found that previous estimates of the scale of the impact may have been too low. The new figures revealed that:

  • More than 10 million asthma attacks are happening in the UK every year
  • About 5.4 million people in the UK are affected by asthma
  • This means that people with asthma are having an average of 2 attacks a year
  • It works out as one asthma attack every three seconds
  • There are approximately 3 deaths due to asthma every day in the UK

Asthma is a very serious and potentially life-threatening disease that affects large numbers of people. Underestimating the effects makes it impossible for us to provide the right care for all of the adults and children living with this chronic condition in the UK. Although these new figures are shocking, it is important for us to be aware of them so that we can take the right steps.

Why Could Asthma Attacks Be Getting More Common?

One reason why the number of asthma attacks may have been underestimated is that we have been relying on older figures. It appears that more people are suffering from asthma attacks now than they were in the past. There are several possible explanations for why this could be happening:

  • More people seem to be affected by asthma, possibly due to environmental factors such as air pollution, allergies and lack of exposure to minor infections that are making children more susceptible
  • Air pollution is a growing problem that increases the risk of asthma attacks in people who are affected by the condition
  • Some people with asthma might be missing the signs of an attack or failing to take the right steps to prevent them, which means that they end up needing urgent care

Learning more about the causes of asthma may one day help us to reduce the chances that children will develop the condition. In the meantime, there are steps we can take to prevent asthma attacks. Reducing air pollution is one way, but we also need to ensure that we understand how we’re affected by asthma and what we can do to prevent attacks. Using a preventer inhaler, avoiding asthma triggers, and seeking medical advice quickly if we notice anything unusual can all help to reduce the risks?

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