What is Asthma?
Asthma is an extremely common long-term condition that affects over 5 million people in the UK. It is a chronic condition involving inflammation and narrowing of the airways and lungs causing the sufferer to experience symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness and coughing. Symptoms can widely vary in severity between individuals; severe asthma can be life threatening. Although, asthma is incurable, children can ‘grow out’ of asthma during their teenage years and it can be well controlled and managed with treatment, with minimal impact on quality of life.
Over 5 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma, with 1 in 5 homes having someone living with asthma. Asthma occurs more commonly in women and children, however it can occur in anyone and develop at any age. Asthma is more likely to be a long-term condition if it develops in adulthood.
What causes Asthma?
There is no one direct cause of asthma; it can be caused by a combination of multiple environmental or genetic factors. Air pollutants, outdoor allergens (such as pollen), indoor allergens (such as dust), the quality of air, and certain viral respiratory infections can cause asthma.
Genetic factors are also responsible for causing asthma, as are factors such as family history, obesity and psychological stress. Some medication can also trigger asthma in some patients. Asthma is more common in children and people who suffer with allergies, such as hay fever, and eczema. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke, born prematurely or have a low birth weight are more likely to develop asthma.