The high levels of air pollution across the country in early April had a very real impact on people with asthma, for example a third of you told us you were experiencing an asthma attack and 86% of you were using your blue reliever inhaler more in the first week of April.
We know that 15% of people who have emergency treatment for an asthma attack will need emergency treatment again within 2 weeks. This means that if you’ve been treated for an asthma attack as a result of the air pollution you might be at risk of a second attack over the next few weeks. Although the very high levels of air pollution have now passed, some people with asthma may still be feeling the effects, as it can take a while for asthma symptoms to improve. It’s important that you do everything you can to reduce your risk.
How to reduce your risk
- Check the air pollution forecast at DEFRA (www.airtext.info if you live in London) or call Defra’s freephone helpline on 0800 55 66 77
- Make sure you have your reliever inhaler with you at all times
- Always take your preventer inhaler as prescribed, even if you are feeling well
- If pollution levels are high avoid strenuous exercise outside
- The highest levels of pollution occur in sunny weather. When levels are high try to avoid visiting areas where there is a lot of traffic, particularly in the afternoon, when levels are at their highest
- Be Aware - don’t ignore asthma symptoms, if you notice them take action
- Know what to do if you have an asthma attack
- Call our Helpline 0800 121 62 44 if you’re worried. If your symptoms are very bad get medical help urgently
The best way to deal with future sudden asthma flare-ups is to follow a written asthma action plan that you’ve filled in with your GP or asthma nurse.
Click here to download a written asthma action plan
What to do in an asthma attack
The following guidelines are suitable for both children and adults and are the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack:
- Take one to 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 taking your inhaler as above, or if you are worried at any time, call 999.
- If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes and you are still feeling unwell, repeat step 3.
If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, you still need to see your GP or asthma nurse within 48 hours.
Click here to order a free, pocket size 'What to do in an asthma attack' card to carry with you here.