World Asthma Day 2022

3rd May 2022

In the UK, around five million people are currently suffering from asthma. Of these five million people, around four million are aged 16 or older, whereas the remaining million are aged 16 and younger. Asthma is a misunderstood condition, and many people will consider it a ‘minor’ condition. Despite having this reputation, there are regularly more than 1,000 asthma-related deaths in the UK per year, one of the worst death rates in all of Europe. 

This is why World Asthma Day is so important. Now more than ever, respiratory illnesses are in the spotlight. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, asthma sufferers were placed in the high-risk category, meaning that they had the highest chance of potentially becoming seriously ill after contracting COVID-19. Raising awareness of respiratory conditions has never been more important, and due to the high rate of asthma-related deaths, and the vast number of asthma sufferers in the UK, World Asthma Day is as vital now as it has ever been.

What is World Asthma Day?

World Asthma Day Logo

On Tuesday the 3rd of May 2022 the annual awareness day known as World Asthma Day will take place. Occurring every May, World Asthma Day was first originated by the Global Initiative for Asthma and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, an organisation based in the United States. World Asthma Day is a globally recognised awareness day that is designed to bring attention to the condition of asthma. As mentioned, asthma is an affliction felt by more than five million people in the UK, and an estimated 300 million people worldwide, but currently, there is no known cure.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the respiratory system in human beings. Asthma causes your airways to swell up and become narrow, leading to trouble breathing. A high level of mucus will also be developed in the airways, further leading to breathing problems. Every year the focus of World Asthma Day will be on a different topic. This year, the focus of World Asthma Day is around closing gaps in asthma care. This pertains to issues such as sufferers having equal access to treatment and diagnosis no matter where they live around the world, the difference between the quality of care that is available for both the rich and poor, the prioritisation of asthma over other conditions, and the gap between the knowledge surrounding asthma and the actual quality of care that is provided. These gaps are all at the forefront of focus for the Global Initiative for Asthma and thus, World Asthma Day 2022. 

How is asthma diagnosed?

More often than not, asthma can be diagnosed simply just from the symptoms that the sufferer has. The main symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing
  • A whistling sound when breathing
  • A tight chest, or a feeling of a weight being placed on the chest
  • Coughing
  • A choking feeling
  • A feeling of needing to bring mucus up from the throat.

Usually, an asthma sufferer will experience these symptoms early in their life and will be diagnosed whilst they are still a child. If you or your child are experiencing these symptoms for prolonged periods it is advised that you visit your GP. They will then be able to provide you with a few simple tests that can diagnose your asthma. These tests include the FeNO test, where you breathe into a machine that measures nitric oxide in your breath, a sign of lung inflammation. Another test that is done is the spirometry test. This is where you breathe out into a machine which calculates how quickly you can breathe out and what capacity your lungs have. A similar test to this is the peak flow test, which can be completed over the course of a few weeks to keep track of your lung capacity and capability of breathing.

What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack will kill around three people in the UK every day. Asthma attacks happen as commonly as once every three seconds, but what is an asthma attack? An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms that are caused by the muscles around your respiratory system tightening. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, and thankfully Asthma UK provides a handy tool that allows you to check your risk of having an asthma attack. If you are on the correct asthma medication then the risk of having an asthma attack is greatly reduced. If you believe that you are having an asthma attack you should try to remain calm whilst using your inhaler. If your symptoms do not get better then you should contact 999 and ask for an ambulance.

How does asthma affect the respiratory system?

Asthma is a condition that greatly affects how your respiratory system works. The effect that it has on your system will vary from person to person, depending on how badly they suffer from asthma. People with asthma will often have inflammation around and inside of their lungs and they may also have a build-up of mucus on their airways. It is during an asthma attack that the airways will begin to swell and close, worsening the symptoms of asthma. In the long term, asthma can lead to permanent changes in the structure of your respiratory system that can lead to some complications in later life. 

What are some breathing techniques for people with asthma?

Woman Using Inhaler

For sufferers of asthma, relief can come in many forms. One of the best ways to relieve asthmatic symptoms is by performing different breathing techniques. One of the best techniques to practice is the diaphragmatic breathing technique. You can either perform this lying flat on your back with your knees bent, or by sitting straight on a chair. Place a hand on your chest and another on your stomach, breathe slowly in through your nose so that the hand on your stomach moves, whilst the hand on your chest remains still, and then breathe out through your mouth, all whilst keeping your hand on your chest still. Another popular breathing technique that can help asthma sufferers is the Buteyko Method. This is a technique created in the 1950s by Ukrainian Konstantin Buteyko. The Buteyko method uses different exercises to promote slow, deep breathing and is closely linked with easing several asthma symptoms.

How is asthma treated?

Medically, away from other forms of treatment such as breathing techniques, asthma is not curable. Treatment for asthma however is available to ensure that sufferers can lead normal lives. The most common treatment for asthma is an inhaler, which allows a patient to breathe in medicine. There are also different forms of asthma treatment that are given depending on severity. These can be provided in tablets such as montelukast or carbocisteine, or through inhalers. There are many different types of inhaler, and you should only use the one that is prescribed especially for you. You can purchase your prescribed medication online from UK Meds today.