04 May 2018

This World Asthma Day (1 May), NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding us it’s never too early, never too late, it’s always the right time to manage your asthma.

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties, affecting people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.

There's currently no cure, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control, so it doesn't have a big impact on your life.  These symptoms include:

  • wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
  • breathlessness
  • a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
  • coughing.

The symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse. This is known as an asthma attack.

Dr Hilary Flett, GP and Governing Body GP member at NHS St Helens CCG, said: “Asthma is a lung condition that causes tightening of the lungs and narrowing of the airways. It can also cause swelling on the lining of the lungs. People with asthma can get short of breath and wheeziness and also a cough, particularly after exercise or at night. In some people a trigger can be identified, such as an allergy to dust, animal fur, pollen and smoke.  It can also be brought on by cold air, exercise and some infections can also bring it on.

“There’s no cure for asthma, but there are treatments, including inhalers. There are two main types of inhaler, a reliever that is used to reduce the tightness in the lungs and to quickly relieve the symptoms, and preventers which you take regularly, which reduce swelling in the lining of the lungs and prevent the symptoms occurring.”

Dr Flett added: “if you think you or your child has asthma, you need to see your GP to confirm the diagnosis.

“Just because you have some of the symptoms it doesn’t mean it is definitely asthma, so we’d need to check what condition you or child has to get the appropriate treatment started as soon as possible. This is done by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests. Asthma can normally be kept under control, but it is still a serious condition that can cause a number of problems and at worst can be life-threatening. That's why it is so important to get symptoms checked out.”

Finally, if you are a smoker and you or your children have any breathing problems, it’s really important to try and stop smoking. Children with parents who smoke are more likely to have chest problems than children of non-smoking parents. You can get help to stop smoking locally from the St Helens Smokefree Hub.

You can get more advice on asthma from NHS Choices website

If you are or someone you are with is having severe breathing difficulties, call 999.