Focus on: Asthma UK

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ASTHMA UK

This charity is extremely close to my heart as I have lost a couple of friends to this condition and I have it myself.

If you are a fellow asthmatic then you will know  how frightening and exhausting this condition can be.  It is ten times worse if you have no idea what your triggers are.  Most people will be aware that exercise is quite a common trigger.  However just because a lot of world class athletes are Asthmatic does not mean they’ve been cured: THERE IS NO CURE – JUST GOOD MANAGEMENT

Asthma UK did a national survey of asthmatics to see what the care was like all over the country.  Shockingly, 80% of patients were not receiving the basic care for the condition, and our death rate from the condition is one of the highest in the world.

This stems partly from many people exclaiming ‘it’s only Asthma,’  Yet this condition can kill in minutes.  Even more shockingly a lot of A & E staff have no idea what Asthma feels like or what they’re looking for.

Would you believe I’m an Asthmatic who does not ‘wheeze,’ so listening  for wheeziness would not help in my case, but this appears to be standard procedure for many medical professionals leading to unnecessary hospital admissions, but also being dismissed as overreacting in A & E.

Asthma UK for me have been a life saver (metaphorically speaking) as they have trained Asthma nurses on the other end of a phone, which means you can talk to someone if you have a problem, and quite often they can sort you out without the need to visit your GP surgery.  This has been extremely useful to me.

MEDICATIONS

Don’t be sucked in by the perceived notion that all asthmatics have a blue inhaler only.  Yes, all asthmatics SHOULD (but many don’t) carry an emergency inhaler with them at all times, regardless of how controlled their condition is.  Please be aware that NOT ALL emergency inhalers are BLUE.  People who have severe asthma have different coloured inhalers.

Asthmatics medication consists usually of the following:

1 Emergency Inhaler (usually Blue, but not always)

1 Preventer Inhaler (usually Brown, but again not always, different preventers can be different colours)

The Emergency Inhaler should be treated exactly like an EpiPen and go with you everywhere (however many people who have well controlled Asthma don’t always do this, which can be very dangerous.)

They will also have a Preventer Inhaler, these usually start off as brown, but over time, as with many conditions things change.  I started with a Brown Preventer inhaler, I have since had a blue preventer, a turquoise preventer and the one I currently have is RED, which works really well and doing exactly what it should be.

On top of these medications, some people like myself also have tablets to help with symptoms, so as a minimum my requirements on prescription are 2 inhalers and 1 box of tablets a month at £8.80 each.  That totals £28.40 a month in medication just to keep my condition under control.

I myself have an extra problem (I swear sometimes my body hates me!), as my Asthma is triggered by my hayfever which itself is triggered by Tree Pollen and the worst offenders are Hazel and Willow.  If the conditions are right can start as early as January.   Unfortunately I am allergic to Cetirizine, the most commonly used Over The Counter non-drowsy medication for hayfever.  I also react, but differently to Piriton.   This means for effective treatment of my hayfever, the tablets for this also have to be on prescription adding another £8.80 to my monthly medication bill which puts it up to the best part of £40.00 a month.

This is why Asthma UK have launched a campaign #payingtobreathe.

I have to be careful in the winter too, as colds quite often go down to my chest and cause more problems than I already have.  So sometimes this leads to antibiotics (as I regularly get a chest infection) and a course of steroid tablets. I try to avoid this, but it is not always possible.   So I am very vigilant with my flu jab, and what you have to remember is I also have an autoimmune disorder, therefore a flu jab is even more important for me. 

CAMPAIGN

No more paying to breathe.  Stop unfair Asthma prescription charges. 76% of people with Asthma struggle to pay for their Asthma prescriptions.  The petition to sign can be found here

ATTACK

People die from Asthma in minutes. They’re struggling to breathe (which is fundamental to life #payingtobreathe) and the general populous is very misinformed about the condition.

WHAT DOES AN ATTACK FEEL LIKE?

That depends on how your Asthma affects you, as everyone is different.  

For me: Imagine an adult elephant sitting on the top half of your chest and then coughing as if you’ve swallowed something the wrong way (you know, when your eyes start to water.), no matter what you do you cannot catch your breath – at this point, is when panic can set in, making the situation worse – so you can see how quickly that could spiral out of control, especially for young children.

WHAT TO DO DURING AN ATTACK

  1. Don’t Panic, if you panic so will the asthmatic, making the attack worse
  2. Ask them where their inhaler is, and if they have it with them 
  3. If no dial 999 and state Asthma attack.
  4. If they do have their inhaler give it to them and get them to take two puffs
  5. If they struggle to do this find a paper cup, push a hole in the bottom to take the inhaler mouthpiece and get them to hold the wide end of the cup over their mouth whilst you administer the two puffs through the other end.  This acts as a spacer and is easier to use.
  6. If there is no improvement, continue to take puffs every 30-60 seconds up to a maximum of 10 (5x 2 puffs)
  7. By the time you get to 6 puffs and nothing has changed dial 999.  Their breathing is compromised it is an emergency.
  8. Make sure they stay as calm as possible. DO NOT let them lay down. Sit them on a chair and lean them slightly forward.
  9. Obviously if they start to go blue at any point do not hesitate to dial 999.
  10. Stay with them until the Ambulance turns up, and keep them as calm as possible.

Most people who know me have no idea I am asthmatic unless I have to use my inhaler.  On the whole I am well in control of it, BUT attacks do happen and they are extremely frightening.

ASTHMA UK

Every 10 seconds someone in the UK has a potentially fatal Asthma attack.  Every single day the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one from Asthma.

Tragically the majority of these deaths could be prevented  right now with the right basic care.  However others still suffer with Asthma so severe that current treatments don’t work.  THIS HAS TO CHANGE – that’s why ASTHMA UK exists.

We work to stop Asthma attacks and ultimately, cure asthma by funding  world leading research and scientists. Campaigning for change and supporting people with Asthma to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.

ABOUT US

Asthma UK has a long history stretching all the way back to 1927, when the Asthma research council  was founded after the Earl of Limerick wrote to the Times.

His letter drew attention to the distress and suffering caused by Asthma and called for the establishment of an organisation that would research into the ’cause and cure of Asthma from a firm scientific foundation.’  At the time there were around 200,000 people in the UK with Asthma.

WHAT WE DO

Asthma UK have invested hugely in research since we began all those years ago, spending more than £50 million on it in just the past 25 years with life-saving advice and support.

Our scientists have also made major breakthroughs resulting in the development of new treatments that could ultimately benefit millions of people across the UK.  These include Flu Vaccines fro Severs Asthma, tablets for allergies and improving immunotherapy which can have a long lasting beneficial effects for people with allergies.

Our Strategy for 2017-2020 has one overarching goal: To reduce the risk of Asthma attacks, by supporting the funding for world reaching support and scientists. Campaigning for change and helping people with Asthma to reduce their risk of a potential life threatening Asthma attack.

(source: https://www.asthma.org.uk)

Thanks for reading this far and I hope this is useful for everybody #payingtobreathe

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