5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for Asthma. 1.1 million children are currently receiving treatment for Asthma.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Adults can develop Asthma later in life which is known as ‘adult onset Asthma’. A chronic disease by definition is a disease that continues once you have it. Asthma can be controlled but there is no cure.
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways. Certain triggers will form irritation and causes the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs to become inflamed and narrow. This can cause difficulties breathing. Certain triggers can be pollen, dust mites, animal fur, cigarette smoke and many different forms of viral infections. For Asthma sufferers it is important to establish what the triggers are and to attempt to eliminate contact with them.
During an asthma attack there are three main changes to the lungs:
- The irritation causes the airway to become inflamed. The cells within the lung produce thick mucus which may block the airway
- The airway swells
- The muscles around the airway tighten causing the airway to narrow
What should I do if someone is having an Asthma attacks
- Sit the casualty in a comfortable position that does not restrict chest expansion
- The casualty will usually have a blue (reliever) inhaler with them. Assist the casualty to use this. If this has not helped after a few minutes, seek urgent medical help
- Stay calm
- If the attack is relieved, encourage the casualty to inform their doctor of this attack.
Substances such as flour, various types of dusts, small particles and fumes within the workplace can cause Occupational Asthma. Occupational Asthma is determined to be as a result of work-related irritants and not normally as a result of a pre-existing asthma condition. An existing condition of Asthma which is exacerbated by substances at work is known as Work Related Asthma.
Occupational and work related Asthma should be considered by employers. COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations require employers to control exposures of hazardous substances to prevent ill health. Any substance which could cause Occupational or Work Related Asthma is considered to be a hazardous substance.