Remember your inhaler this summer

As the weather warms up and we make the most of time outdoors during lockdown, the NHS in Leeds is advising people with asthma – especially children –  on how to manage their health this summer to avoid the ‘September spike’ in emergency asthma admissions.

Asthma affects 1.1 million (one in 11) children in the UK, making it the most common long-term condition among children. The usual symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, and can be caused by a variety of triggers including colds, allergies and cigarette smoke. When taken properly and as prescribed, treatment is very effective at controlling these symptoms.

However, data shows that there is a sharp rise in the number of children and young people attending A&E and subsequently being admitted to hospital for asthma-related conditions in September. Healthcare professionals often find that the main cause for this is that children and young people do not regularly take their asthma medication over the long summer break.

To help prevent that from happening, the NHS in Leeds is reminding parents and carers to make sure their children remember to use their inhalers. Not only will this avoid the ‘September spike’ in hospital admissions, it will also help cut the risk of asthma symptoms being triggered by the coronavirus, or any other respiratory virus.

Dr Bryan Power, GP and Clinical Lead for Long Term Conditions for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “In Leeds, around September each year, we see a dramatic increase in the number of children with asthma being taken to A&E and often being admitted to hospital for further treatment. Often the main cause of this is that they haven’t been using their asthma medication.

“During the summer months, the pollen count is also at its highest, and hay fever can cause asthma symptoms in children and adults. Treating hay fever with antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays, alongside your usual asthma treatment, can cut the risk of an asthma attack.

“This summer poses the added risk of the current coronavirus outbreak, so it’s more important than ever for people with asthma to take their preventer inhaler daily as prescribed. I want to strongly urge parents and carers to make sure their children continue their asthma treatment as normal during the summer months.”

Asthma UK provides simple, straightforward information for children and adults, as well as how to manage asthma well to reduce the risk from coronavirus: http://www.asthma.org.uk/

ENDS

Notes for editor

Key facts (source: Asthma UK)

  • 4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • Asthma prevalence is thought to have plateaued since the late 1990s, although the UK still has some of the highest rates in Europe and on average 3 people a day die from asthma.
  • An estimated 75% of hospital admissions for asthma are avoidable and as many as 90% of the deaths from asthma are preventable.