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Cold weather warning for asthma sufferers

By Ricky Thompson

A stark warning has been issued to Northern Ireland's asthma sufferers as bitterly cold weather continues to grip the region.

Last night was one of the coldest nights this winter, with temperatures plunging well below freezing.

The mercury struggled to climb throughout Monday, leaving a chill in the air, and increasing the risk of health issues for those with asthma.

Joan O’Hagan, Director of Asthma UK Northern Ireland, said it is vital that the one in 10 people with asthma here are prepared this winter: "Three quarters of people with asthma find that cold air makes it worse, putting them at an increased risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.

“People with asthma have told us that they have thought twice about going to hospital or their GP in the last 4 weeks, despite knowing they needed specialist treatment.

"Nobody having an asthma attack who needs emergency treatment should be anxious about going to A&E."

According to the National Review of Asthma Deaths, 45% of those who died from an asthma attack did so without seeking medical assistance or before emergency medical care could be provided.

Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every seven minutes in The UK.

"Tragically three people die every day because of asthma attacks," Joan continued.

"Two of these deaths are preventable, so it’s absolutely crucial people with asthma seek medical assistance for asthma attacks and that their condition is taken seriously."

When cold weather takes hold, people with asthma should:

  • Wrap up warm
  • Carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times
  • Keep taking their regular preventer inhaler as prescribed by their doctor.
  • Speak to their pharmacist or GP to ensure they are using their inhaler correctly.
  • Call Asthma UK’s Helpline if they have any concerns about their asthma on 0800 121 62 44.

All those who have asthma are encouraged to take part in a short risk test to help them understand their risk of attack. It can be found here: http://www.asthma.org.uk/advice-risk-test

If sufferers need tips on how to use their inhalers, information can be found here: http://www.asthma.org.uk/Sites/healthcare-professionals/pages/inhaler-demos

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