1. ITV Report

World Asthma Day: Everything you need to know

Around 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK Photo: Clive Gee/PA

Today is World Asthma Day.

It is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma with a goal to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.

In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receving treatment for asthma, that is one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children.

According to World Health Organization, an estimated 300 million people are said to suffer from asthma.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition of the air passages that makes breathing difficult. Usually there is inflammation, which results in a temporary narrowing of the passages that carry oxygen to the lungs.

What are the symptoms?

The severity of symptoms varies from person to person and asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time. Symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • A tight chest
  • Asthma attacks
There are a number of asthma triggers including tobacco and smoke Credit: Clive Gee/PA Wire

What causes Asthma?

The cause of asthma is not fully understood. However, it is known to run in families and you are more likely to have the condition if one or both of your parents has it.

Common triggers that irritates the airways and brings symptoms on include:

  • House dust mites
  • Animal fur
  • Pollen
  • Tobacco
  • Smoke
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Chest infections

What is an Asthma attack?

An asthma attack usually develops slowly. It takes six to 48 hours for it to become serious.

Signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Getting more wheezy, tight-chested or breathless
  • The reliever inhaler is not helping as much as usual
  • There is a drop in your peak expiratory flow

If you notice these signs, contact your GP. Always call 999 in an emergency.

How can Asthma be treated?

There is no cure for asthma. However, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition. Treatment involves a combination of medicines, lifestyle advice and identifying, and then avoiding potential triggers.

For more information, visit the NHS Asthma and World Asthma Foundation websites.