Today is World Asthma Day an annual event that has been organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve awareness of asthma around the world. It was first held in 1998 and now takes place on the first Tuesday of May every year.
Two of my three children have asthma – my elder daughter and my son. My daughter’s asthma was diagnosed when she was six, my son’s asthma was diagnosed in more traumatic circumstances when he was admitted to hospital with severe breathing difficulties. He was only five years old and to see him fighting for breath was one of the most frightening moments of my life. Fortunately with good care he pulled through but it was an experience which brought home to me how serious asthma can be.
Unfortunately many people I meet do not realise how serious asthma can be, they assume it is just a cough but ASTHMA CAN KILL.
In fact it kills three people a day (source: Asthma UK).
For us we have learnt to manage our children’s asthma and now they are older they are learning to handle the condition themselves. Their asthma is usually managed by the use of inhalers, medical check ups and the avoidance of known trigger factors. For my daughter her asthma can be brought on by colds, pets, pollen, dust, exercise, cold weather and pollutants. Her asthma hasn’t eased as we hoped it would during her teenage years; she has it all the time, she has to manage it all the time and she can’t go anywhere without her inhalers. However, it doesn’t stop her doing all the things that her peers do and she leads an active life. My son’s asthma only appears when he is unwell but his asthma can lead to an attack very quickly which can sometimes require hospital treatment.
Asthma attacks are frightening experiences. They happen when symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, tightness in the chest and coughing get worse or make it too difficult to speak, eat or sleep. Both of my children have experienced asthma attacks which have resulted in them receiving hospital treatment.
Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every seven minutes (source: Asthma UK).
Asthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health of the millions of people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma. They invest into research and provide information, advice and support for people affected by asthma. Their website is a rich source of help and support which I recommend to anyone who is affected by asthma.
A recent initiative of theirs is to introduce a new online test that highlights the risk of an asthma attack and which aims to reduce hospital admissions. Called the Triple A: Avoid Asthma Attacks it is a short test which entails answering a few questions. At the end a result is given which is graded high, medium or reduced risk of an asthma attack and is accompanied by advice on what to do to avoid asthma attacks, as well as information if you do have an attack. It is hoped that this will help asthma sufferers and reduce hospital admissions.
If your family is affected by asthma please check out Asthma UK and their online test and if you would like to share your experiences of asthma, please comment below.