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February - March 2008


Health

Asthma - Cold Weather Warning to South Asian Communities

As the colder winter weather sets in this New Year, Asthma UK is offering important advice to the thousands of South Asian people with asthma in the UK on controlling their symptoms throughout the winter months.

People from South Asian communities are three times more likely than white people to have an emergency hospital admission for their asthma despite the fact that the incidence of asthma in South Asian communities is actually lower than in the white population.

Asthma is a very serious condition killing 4 people a day in the UK alone. This time of year is particularly perilous with 90% of people with asthma telling us that colds and flu trigger their symptoms as well as 75% who say they are affected by the cold air.

‘There are several steps you can take which should help you keep control of your asthma throughout the winter,’ says Dorothy Russell, an asthma nurse specialist from the Asthma UK Adviceline. She advises people with asthma to take the following precautions:

Keep taking your regular medicines as prescribed by your doctor. If you know that cold air triggers your asthma, take a couple of puffs of your reliever inhaler before going outside.

Keep your blue reliever inhaler with you at all times.

Wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth - this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in.

Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes and take a couple of puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start.

George Burrha from London says: ‘I need to be especially careful in the winter as, if I get a cold it makes my asthma worse. A bad asthma attack can be really terrifying so I always try and stay wrapped up and I keep my inhaler on me, just to be safe’.

Dot also recommends that people with asthma have a written personal asthma action plan, ‘This is a plan which should be completed by your doctor or asthma nurse in discussion with you, and contains the information you need to control your asthma’. Dot continues ‘This should include information about your asthma medication, key things to tell you when your asthma is getting worse and what you should do about it, as well as emergency information on what to do if you have an asthma attack’.

‘It is important to make sure you have your asthma reviewed at least once a year - sooner if your symptoms are getting worse or you have severe asthma.’

If you are worried about your asthma or would just like to talk confidentially to a specialist asthma nurse, the Asthma UK Adviceline offers independent advice about asthma and provides a translation service in more than 100 languages. It is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 08457 01 02 03 or alternatively you can email an asthma nurse at asthma.org.uk/adviceline.

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