Press release: Back to school asthma attack warning as hospitalisations skyrocket

Date: 31 August 2017

Asthma UK is issuing a health warning to parents of children with asthma, as the latest data shows children (5-19) in the UK were 1.7 times more likely to be rushed to hospital following an asthma attack in September than in August. *

Children are at a much greater risk of having a potentially fatal asthma attack when they’re back in school, where they are exposed to triggers such as cold and flu viruses. A lack of routine with anti-inflammatory preventer medicines over the school holiday can also increase their risk, as their airways will be more sensitive to asthma triggers.

Sonia Munde, Head of Helpline and Nurse Manager at Asthma UK says: “Asthma UK is urging parents to spot the warning signs that their child’s asthma is getting worse, and to know what to do if their child is having an asthma attack.   

“It’s extremely distressing for any parent to hear that their child has had an asthma attack at school, and exposure to triggers at school can also cause asthma attacks when children get back home. Parents should not feel afraid to book an urgent appointment with the GP or asthma nurse if their child is: using their reliever inhaler (usually blue) more than three times a week; coughing or wheezing at night; feeling out of breath and struggling to keep up with their friends.”

Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK, and three people die from asthma every day. Asthma UK are advising parents to familiarise themselves - and anyone who looks after their child - with what to do if their child is having an asthma attack:

  1. Help them sit up straight and keep calm
  2. Help them take one puff of their reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 20-60 seconds - they can take up to a maximum of 10 puffs
  3. Call 999 for an ambulance if their symptoms are getting worse, they don’t feel better after 10 puffs, or you are worried at any time
  4. You can repeat step two if the ambulance is taking longer than 15 minutes

For further information on how to protect your child when they’re back in school this August, visit or call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm) to speak to an asthma nurse.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the Asthma UK media team on, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).

*Data sources: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data via NHS Digital (England), Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland and NHS Wales

Emergency hospital admissions (5-19yrs):

  August September
England 759 2154
Scotland 93 161
Wales 40 107
UK 892 2422
% change Aug-Sep 171.52%


  August September
England 757 2125
Scotland 127 166
Wales 42 75
UK 926 2366
% change Aug-Sep 155.51%


  August September
England 583 2212
Scotland 137 209
Wales 23 108
UK 743 2529
% change Aug-Sep 240.38%


The Asthma UK Data Portal is a new online tool for journalists to access the latest figures and trends in asthma outcomes across the UK. Information on asthma facts and statistics can also be found on our website.

About Asthma UK

  • In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • 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.
  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
  • For more information about asthma please visit