Is asthma serious?
Imagine being paralysed by fear as you struggle to breathe, unable to speak, unable to ask for help. That's what an asthma attack feels like.
There are 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK, which means asthma affects one in every 11 people and one in five households. Asthma is not just an excuse to skip P.E. For a quarter of a million people with severe asthma, even climbing the stairs can feel like a marathon, never mind going outside their home.
Every 10 seconds someone is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK. Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Key facts for journalists
- 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
- Asthma prevalence is thought to have plateaued since the late 1990s, although the UK still has some of the highest rates in Europe and on average 3 people a day die from asthma.
- In 2014 (the most recent data available) 1216 people died from asthma.
- The NHS spends around 1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma.
Asthma across the UK
- In Northern Ireland 182,000 people (1 in 10) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This includes 36,000 children and 146,000 adults.
- In Scotland, 368,000 people (1 in 14) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This includes 72,000 children and 296,000 adults.
- In Wales 314,000 people (1 in 10) are currently receiving treatment for asthma. This consists of 59,000 children and 256,000 adults.
Children, parents and asthma
- One in 11 children has asthma and it is the most common long-term medical condition.
- On average there are three children with asthma in every classroom in the UK.
- The UK has among the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.
- Asthma attacks hospitalise someone every 8 minutes; 185 people are admitted to hospital because of asthma attacks every day in the UK (a child is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes because of an asthma attack).