Millions of people in the UK are known to cope with asthma symptoms in some form. The condition may require significant medical treatment, but is often manageable

Woman with inhaler
Asthma affects millions of Brits

There are ways people can help improve their asthma symptoms, according to experts and studies.

The extremely common condition affects 5.4 million people in the UK and can be very mild in the problems it causes, or require regular treatment due to being dangerous.

Data from Asthma + Lung UK says there are around 75,000 emergency admissions to hospitals every year in the UK, while 1,200 people die every year from it.

It can be diagnosed in people of all ages, so some mild symptoms are worth looking out for just in case the condition has gone unnoticed so far.

So how can people spot the signs and how can asthma attacks be prevented?

What is asthma?

Asthma is usually well-managed, but some cases can be more severe


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Asthma is a very common condition of the lungs that causes breathing difficulties in people.

The condition usually develops in childhood, but can affect people of any range. Usually more than manageable, the NHS says "there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control so it does not have a big impact on your life".

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Asthma symptoms can include tight feeling chests, wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. When these symptoms get worse, this is known as an asthma attack.

It can be mild, but there is also severe asthma, which requires some medicine and certain types of treatment to target symptoms.

One in every 15 people with the condition have severe asthma and it has been shown to lead to a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), in some cases.

Regular asthma attacks may also lead to the airways becoming thicker over time, making them narrower. This is known as 'airway remodelling'.

How do I prevent asthma attacks?

Weight loss could be key to helping reduce asthma symptoms


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There are ways a person can learn to manage their asthma, not just through the use of inhalers, and one thing you can do is more exercise.

Asthma + Lung UK said: "Physical activity can be more challenging when you have asthma.

"You might be worried that getting breathless means an asthma attack is on the way, or feel down and frustrated that asthma is stopping you getting fit. It might help to know that getting your heart rate up can actually improve your asthma symptoms."

They recommend people with asthma do exercise as "raising your heartbeat regularly boosts your lung power", supports your immune system and helps you stay a healthy weight.

There are plenty of diet plans and exercise goals people can follow to try and keep their weight down and improve their asthma symptoms.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma + Lung UK’s in-house GP, said: "Losing some weight also means you’re less at risk of other conditions like acid reflux and sleep apnoea, that can make asthma worse.

"And it could mean you respond better to the flu vaccine, which is good news because flu and other viral infections are a top asthma trigger."

Exercise is also known for its mental health benefits and this is said to cut stress and anxiety, which in turn helps with asthma symptoms.

More exercise does not mean you suddenly have to become Mo Farah marathon fit, but more regular exercise, like walking and yoga, is beneficial.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, common asthma triggers include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Disinfectants
  • Pollen
  • Illnesses and infections.
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Pests
  • Pets
  • Mould

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