The latest scientific studies have unearthed some worrying statistics: asthma rates in the UK have doubled in the last five years, with 12% of Brits now suffering from the dreaded wheeze.
More worrying still, there’s thought to be a further 3.7 million sufferers who have yet to be diagnosed.
● Tight chest
● Coughing, especially late at night, when laughing or during exercise
● Shortness of breath and trouble breathing
Every day 185 Brits are admitted to hospital with asthma attacks.
The UK has among the highest rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.
If your asthma is exacerbated by air quality, keep an eye on Twitter feeds such as @DefraUKAir for a forecast. In London and the South East you can sign up at Airtext for alerts about upcoming pollution.
Dr Andy Whittamore, GP and Asthma UK spokesperson, answered our questions…
Q. Why are so many more people suffering from asthma?
A: It’s thought that many of the lifestyle choices we make today and the environment we live in – such as our housing, diet, and increased hygiene levels – may have added to the increasing numbers. Fewer infections could mean the immune system doesn’t develop as well, and this lowered immunity can increase the risk.
There’s also environmental pollution, including traffic fumes and chemicals from power plants, which can make asthma symptoms worse. It may be that the same number of people have asthma, but that pollutants, pollens and other triggers are making their symptoms more obvious.
Q. Can people develop it later in life?
A: It’s not unusual to develop asthma later in life, but people are often surprised by the diagnosis. Many patients I see have probably always been at risk of asthma, or have even had asthma symptoms when they were younger, but for some it presents for the first time in adulthood. It’s known as ‘late onset asthma’ or ‘adult onset asthma’, and…