Asthma has become a hot topic recently. Last week the Telegraph reported that two in three asthma deaths “could have been prevented”. 1000 people die each year from asthma. That’s three every day. Two of those deaths could have been prevented.
There are currently 5.4million people in the UK that suffer from Asthma. That’s just over 8.5% of the total population. Asthma attacks can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s likely you know somebody who suffers from the condition. That’s why we include first aid for asthma in our First Aid, CPR and Medical Emergencies courses.
Below are some of the facts and figures about asthma (courtesy of nice.org.uk):
- There are 5.4 million people receiving treatment for asthma
- 1.1million of these are children (1 in 11 children have asthma)
- Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition
- 1,000 people die each year from asthma
- 90% of those are associated with preventable factors
- 40% of these deaths are in people under 75
Asthma is still a killer
The Royal College of Physicians recently published a report on the public health impact of asthma. Currently, deaths in the UK caused by asthma are amongst the highest in Europe.
So why is this?
The Telegraph wrote a great piece called “Doctor’s diary: asthma and preventable death”. The article claims that ‘nearly half of the fatalities apparently occur in patients who had not sought medical help’. I highly recommend you read the article.
What to do during an asthma attack
So now we know the extent of the problem, do you know how to act during an asthma attack? Below are the recommended steps to follow during an attack (suitable for both children and adults).
- Take one or two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately
- Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths
- If you do not start to feel better, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes: you can take up to ten puffs
- If you do not feel better after following steps 1-3 then call 999
- If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes and you still feel unwell, repeat step 3
If your symptoms do improve and you do not need to call 999, you must go and see a doctor or asthma nurse within 24 hours.
What to do if any of the following happens
- Your reliever isn’t helping or lasting over four hours
- Your symptoms are getting worse (a cough, breathlessness, wheeze or you have a tight chest)
- You’re too breathless or it’s difficult to speak, eat or sleep
- Your breathing gets faster and it feels like you can’t get your breath in properly
- Your child complains of a stomach ache
You have to seek medical help, even at night. If you go to A&E or are admitted to hospital, the make sure you take details of your medicines with you if possible.
For more information, asthma.org has some great advice.
There are two great resources that all first aiders and asthma sufferers should read.
http://www.asthma.org.uk/Sites/healthcare-professionals/pages/inhaler-demos shows the proper inhaler technique and demonstrations for all types of inhaler and spacer devices.
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/asthma-leaflet offers some great advice on the signs and symptoms of Asthma plus more information about the condition itself.
Asthma in first aid courses
With so many preventable deaths occurring from the condition it is so important that as many people as possible can recognise the signs and symptoms of an attack, and how to properly act in an asthma emergency.
We offer training in relation to asthma in all our First Aid courses, as well as our CPR and AED sessions for dental and GP practices, and in greater depth in our Medical Emergencies training.