Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. When a person with asthma comes into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscle around the walls of the airways tightens so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell and sticky mucus or phlegm is often produced. These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated and lead to the symptoms of asthma, namely, coughing, wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest and shortness of breath.
Asthma prevalence in Wales is reported to be one of the highest in the world. Asthma UK Cymru findings suggest there are 260,000 people living with asthma in Wales, 205,000 adults and 55,000 children, which equates to 1 in 10 children and 1 in 12 adults currently being treated for doctor diagnosed asthma. Health in Wales – Asthma, 2015.
Common asthma triggers include:
- house dust mites
- animal fur
- cigarette smoke
- viral infections
Asthma may also be triggered by substances (allergens or chemicals) inhaled while at work.
Prevention & Management:
- Stopping smoking is the best way to help yourself if you have asthma. Airborne "irritants" such as second-hand smoke can be a trigger too. It's important for people with asthma to stay in a smoke-free environment.
- People with asthma should take regular exercise. Walking, swimming and cycling are all activities you can do if you have asthma. A lot of top sportsmen and women have asthma.
- Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.
- Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and few additives may help with asthma in the long term. It also helps if you stay trim. Obesity has an adverse impact on asthma, so people with asthma should try to stay a healthy weight.
- If inhaled or oral steroids are used to control asthma, flu and pneumonia vaccinations are needed to reduce the chances of a serious respiratory illness.
NHS Choices, 2014
How colds and flu affect people with asthma
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