Below freezing temperatures could put millions with asthma at risk, warns charity

The Met Office has warned that the mercury will plummet this week with bitter winds making it feel close to -10C in exposed spots.

Responding to the news, Sonia Munde, Nurse Manager at Asthma UK says:

“Freezing temperatures could put around 4 million people with asthma in the UK at risk* of a life-threatening asthma attack.

“Around 75 per cent of people with asthma say that breathing in cold winter air makes their asthma symptoms worse because it triggers their airways to spasm.

“But a simple scarf could save lives. If people wrap it loosely around their nose and mouth it warms up the air before they breathe it in so it is less likely to trigger an asthma attack.

“At Asthma UK, we’re urging people to use their preventer inhaler to dampen the inflammation in their sensitive airways and keep their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them in case of an emergency.

“We also advise that if people need to use their blue reliever inhaler three times or more in a week, they should see their GP or asthma nurse as it’s a sign that an asthma attack could be imminent. For more advice on how people can keep asthma attacks at bay this winter, visit:”

Notes to Editors:

*5.4 million people in the UK have asthma. 1,542 people responded to Asthma UK’s National Asthma Panel survey, of which 1,154 said that cold air triggered their asthma. The survey ran from 5 May to 9 June 2004.

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

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


About Asthma UK

Asthma UK provide a nurse-staffed helpline for people with asthma, advice on its website and funds research projects to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma.

Having an asthma attack is incredibly frightening, and one occurs every 10 seconds in the UK. An attack happens when the airways start to tighten, which can leave people coughing, wheezing and gasping for breath. Some people with asthma describe having an asthma attack as feeling like a pillow is being held over their face.

  • 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.
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
  • For more information about asthma please visit