05 May 2015
Asthmatics in Jersey have been reminded of the importance of managing and controlling their asthma on World Asthma Day (5 May).
There is no cure for asthma, which can affect any age group, from both very young children (early onset asthma) to older adults (late onset).
Dr Hamdi Amar, respiratory consultant at Health and Social Services, said “Asthma is one of the most common diseases in the western world, and those affected need support to be able to control it. Although there’s no cure for asthma it is possible, with good management of the disease, for asthmatics to live full, active lives of an excellent quality, including being able to engage in sports.”
UK statistics show that:
- there are approximately 5 million asthma sufferers in the UK
- there are 18 million working days in the UK lost per year through asthma
- more than half of asthma patients do not have good control of their condition, leading to increased symptoms, lifestyle limitations and additional visits to their GP or to hospital
- asthma kills up to 1,000 people per year in the UK, with almost half of these deaths being preventable
Triggers for asthma can include:
- chest infections
- environmental factors such as damp
- exercise (in some cases)
Dr Amar said "It is paramount to keep asthma symptoms under control through avoidance of allergens, where applicable, and through proper use of inhalers and other medication.
“Uncontrolled asthma symptoms may lead to inflammation of the airways that ends up causing permanent damage and significant disability.
“GPs play a key role in managing asthma, and performing asthma checks, but any difficult cases should be referred to the respiratory team at the Hospital. Our specialist asthma nurses have expert knowledge in this area.”
Children and asthma
Consultant paediatrician Dr Mark Jones estimated that asthma affected up to 10 percent of children.
“There is no single, quick and easy test to find out if your child has asthma" said Dr Jones. "Diagnosis depends upon the presence of recurring symptoms including wheeze, difficulty breathing and cough. These symptoms may start with a cold and continue between colds, when exposed to cold or damp air or when around pets or other animals.
“Treatment of asthma is highly effective for the majority of children, and is readily accepted with a little encouragement. If you suspect your child may have asthma, speak with their doctor and arrange an appointment without delay.”
In Jersey, asthmatics and those with other respiratory conditions can get help from The Jersey Asthma and Respiratory Society (JARS), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Support for people with asthma
JARS chairman Elaine Maton said “The society provides support for adults and children in Jersey who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions. JARS is a small charity of 11 volunteer committee members working hard to raise funds, and awareness, in order to be able to offer support in as many ways as possible.”