IN 2019 it was highlighted that asthma deaths in the UK were rising, having increased by a third over the previous ten-year period.

Not only was this concerning, but research by Asthma UK, one of the largest charities, demonstrated that many of these deaths could be prevented.

Issues raised included being seen multiple times by different healthcare professionals, for example in general practice and A+E, poor inhaler technique, a lack of understanding of the potential severity of the condition (not just by patients), and the absence of a Personalised Asthma Action Plan (PAAP).

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A PAAP, either written or latterly electronic, is established as one of the gold standards in asthma management. It allows a person with asthma to know what to do on a good day, (green), one with moderate symptoms (amber), as well as warning signs of a potentially severe attack (red).

As one of the commonest long-term conditions, asthma affects up to one in five children, and 10 per cent of adults. Half of children thankfully grow out of their symptoms by adulthood, though it may recur later in life. Those who develop asthma as adults are more likely to have symptoms long term.

Classic symptoms of asthma are cough, chest pain, wheeze and shortness of breath. Multiple triggers may precipitate and exacerbate the condition, not just the stereotypical ones i.e., tobacco smoke, high pollen counts and extremes of temperature.

A cough at night, waking up coughing, and cough or wheeze on exercise should have you consulting with your regular GP at the earliest possible opportunity.

Treatment is a stepwise approach, the “asthma ladder”, stepping up and down the ladder in line with symptom control.

Some may only require a reliever inhaler occasionally, but if you need this more than three times a week, or symptoms interfere with your life, a preventer inhaler will be needed.

Though there are those with brittle or very severe asthma, the crux of the matter is that individuals with only infrequent or mild symptoms can still suffer a life-threatening attack.

Everyone with an asthma diagnosis should have a PAAP in place, and as an absolute minimum, attend for yearly review with a suitably qualified healthcare professional to assess their current symptoms and check on their inhaler technique.