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Asthma is a common long term condition that affects both adults and children but the severity varies from person to person. In the UK one in 12 adults are affected by asthma. Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways that carry air to the lungs. When the airways are inflamed, it is difficult for air to pass through and this causes the asthma attack.

Asthma Inhaler Consultation

The symptoms of an asthma attack can be relieved or prevented by the use of an inhaler. The Online Clinic will prescribe inhalers to patients where they have been instructed on how to use an inhaler by a doctor in a face to face environment.

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What are the symptoms of asthma?

The symptoms of asthma include experiencing breathlessness, a tightness of the chest, having a cough or making a wheezing. There is great variation in how many symptoms a person may experience, and while some may only have one symptom others may experience several symptoms.

An individual will experience symptoms of asthma when he or she is exposed to so-called triggers, which irritate the person’s lungs leading to the airways becoming narrow, the muscles around the airways tightening and an increase in the production of mucus (phlegm).

It is important to be aware of the triggers so that they then can be avoided. There is a great variation in triggers and they can be related to weather conditions, exercise, allergens, medication, foods, and airborne irritants. Some common triggers include cigarette smoke, the use of certain pain killers (aspirin and ibuprofen), cold air, sudden changes in temperature, and from consuming food that contains sulphites. For an A-Z list of triggers, please follow this link to Asthma UK.

Asthma attacks

Some individuals get severe asthma attacks, which is when the onset of symptoms is much more pronounced. These symptoms can include getting wheezier, feeling increased breathlessness or a greater tightening of chest. In some cases individuals may feel restless and agitated, experience their pulse increasing and be unable to speak due to the constant tightening of chest. It can take between 6 and 48 hours for an asthma attack to develop but some people experience a rapid onset of symptoms. If your reliever inhaler is not producing results, you must contact your doctor or asthma clinic immediately.

What are the causes of asthma?

There is no single cause of asthma but it is known that it tends to run in families. Some allergic conditions such as hay fever, food allergies and eczema are also related to asthma. If there is a history of these conditions then there is a greater risk of the person having asthma.

Other common risk factors for children include: premature birth; exposure to tobacco smoke; and bronchiolitis (a common childhood lung infection).

Some people may develop occupational asthma, which is caused by irritants that are encountered in certain work environments. High risk industries include: chemical workers; paint sprayers; timber workers; bakers; food processing workers; nurses; welders; and animal handlers.

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