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Harlow hospital supports world asthma day with advice on better management of the condition

A total of 263 patients - slightly more than the previous year - were diagnosed with asthma at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust in the year to March, of whom 61 were children. Respiratory nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) are keen to help people living with asthma manage the condition, as well as preventing its severity. They are supporting World Asthma Day today (7 May) and holding an information event, with the team visiting areas around the hospital.

Image representing Harlow hospital supports world asthma day with advice on better management of the condition

Asthma affects around 1 in 11 children in the UK and 1 in 12 adults. While asthma prevalence is thought to have plateaued since the late 1990s, the UK still has some of the highest rates in Europe and on average three people a day die from asthma.

Respiratory nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) are keen to help people living with asthma manage the condition, as well as preventing its severity. They are supporting World Asthma Day (7 May) and holding an information event, with the team visiting areas around the hospital. The aim, say the specialist nurses, is extra guidance and training so staff on different wards can teach patients in use of respiratory aids, as well as raising awareness of the condition and its management among patients and families.

Asthma is particularly distressing for children and frightening for parents and carers every time an attack occurs. It is important for parents to recognise signs so that once confirmed, the asthma can be managed effectively in their child. The signs of childhood asthma can range from a cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies. Common signs parents should be on the lookout for include:

  • Coughing, especially at night

  • A wheezing or whistling sound, especially when breathing out

  • Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs
    or neck to pull in tightly

  • Frequent colds that settle in the chest.

    Your child might have only one of these symptoms or several of them.

    Dr Ravi Ragatha, respiratory specialty doctor, explained that recognising symptoms is vital, and that following diagnosis and prescription of medication, a management routine should be put in place, to boost the child's confidence in controlling the condition. When an inhaler is prescribed, it is helpful if parents can guide the child to become familiar with it. For instance, children should use an inhaler with a spacer. Learning to administer the correct dosage is also essential. It is also important to monitor peak flow rate using a peak flow meter which can pick up early exacerbation of asthma."

    Dr Ragatha added: "Severe asthma attacks are traumatic for patients and families, so anything we can do to help patients manage the condition to reduce severity and avoid acute episodes is really important."

    If you need more information or advice, please contact respiratory.nurses@pah.nhs.uk.

    Facts about asthma

  • Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus.

  • It can start at any age, but begins mostly in childhood, with most children having their first symptoms by age 5.

  • Asthma symptoms can appear at any time in life. People can develop asthma at age 60, or even later.

  • Asthma can't be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled.

  • Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:

  • Airborne substances, such as pollen, pets, dust mites, and
    mould spores

  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Physical activity
  • Cold air
  • Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen
  • Strong emotions and stress
  • Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and
    drink, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat

Useful websites:

Asthma UK

British Lung Foundation (BLF)
The BLF runs Breathe Easy support groups. Find out more on the BLF website

NHS

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