Perspective: Now Experts Fear Your Job Could Lead to an Asthma Attack; More Than 5.1 Million People in the UK Have Asthma, with Some 1 to 2 per Cent of All Children Suffering Chronic Asthma. Health Correspondent Sophie Blakemore Reports on the Condition That Appears to Be on the Increase
Byline: Sophie Blakemore
I f you have ever been unable to catch your breath, for whatever reason, imagine the fear and panic felt if it was a regular occurrence.
Your chest tightens, you start to wheeze and cough and no matter how hard you try the next breath won't come. These are the chronic symptoms sufferers of asthma battle to overcome in the grip of an attack.
Asthma is a condition that affects the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs and is normally managed by drugs inhaled through ventilators.
The airways of a sufferer are sensitive and if they come into contact with something which triggers off an allergic reaction, they constrict making it harder to breathe.
The muscles around the walls of the airways tighten and the lining becomes inflamed producing sticky mucus or phlegm which can lead to a variety of symptoms, depending on the severity of the reaction.
Despite the belief that wheezing is the most common symptom, coughing is the most familiar signal an attack is on the way.
Asthma can strike at any age, with some people experiencing symptoms during childhood which then disappear in later life.
Others develop late-onset asthma in adulthood, without ever having had symptoms as a child, often as a result of a viral infection.
Scientists who have studied the condition for decades claim it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly causes asthma.
So far research has shown it can be inherited, like its related allergic conditions eczema and hay fever.
Many aspects of modern lifestyles -such as changes in housing and diet and a more hygienic environment -may have also contributed to the rise in asthma over recent years. …