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World Asthma Day

Healthy lungs

What is asthma?
Asthma is a long-term lung condition that can make it extremely difficult for someone to breathe as it inflames the airways and lungs. When inflammation of the breathing tubes occurs, it makes them highly sensitive and they become narrow which is why it makes it difficult to breathe.

Asthma is the most common lung condition and there is an estimated amount of 5.4 million people in the UK suffering from it.

What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of asthma can include wheezing, a tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing. If these symptoms are severe, it could be a sign of an asthma attack, along with a low peak expiratory flow (PEF) if you use a peak flow metre and also if your symptoms don't get better after using an inhaler.

What is the cause of asthma?
The direct cause of asthma is unknown however, there are multiple triggers that can bring on asthma or an asthma attack:

  • allergies such as pollen, dust, animal fur
  • smoking, pollution and other fumes
  • exercise
  • mould or damp
  • sudden changes in weather
  • emotions, such as laughter or stress
  • infections like colds and flu
  • medicines, particularly anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen and aspirin

What happens if asthma is left untreated/uncontrolled?
Asthma can normally be kept under control however this doesn't stop any serious problems that can occur. People often think that asthma isn't that serious of a condition, but if left untreated or if treatment isn't maintained it can cause a number of complications:

  • anxiety, stress or depression
  • frequent visits to your GP or hospital
  • lung infections such as pneumonia
  • feeling tired all the time
  • delays in growth or puberty in children
  • severe asthma attacks which can be life-threatening

Can you prevent asthma?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent asthma but you can control your symptoms by:

  • talking to your doctor and working on a medication plan - this will help you keep control of your asthma which in-turn doesn't let it control your life
  • recognise and avoid asthma triggers - this could be allergies, smoking, pet hair etc.
  • keeping up to date with any vaccinations for pneumonia and flu
  • taking your medicine as prescribed, even if you're feeling better
  • monitoring your breathing by using a peak flow metre to measure it
  • identifying when you're about to have an asthma attack and act quickly to prevent a severe attack

When should you see your GP?
If you experience any of the above symptoms, even if you don't think it's a big deal, you should definitely go and see your GP as asthma isn't something you want to risk leaving undiagnosed.

Private Health Insurance

Here at General & Medical, we have a range of health insurance policies to suit your needs. Our most popular policy is our Lifestyle plan as it provides more inclusive benefit options at an affordable price. With all of our policies, you can add pre-existing conditions to the cover, including asthma.

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