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Early Years Calendar: World Asthma Day 2021

Date: Wednesday 5th May

World Asthma Day is held every May to raise awareness of the triggers, symptoms, treatment and common misconceptions of asthma. World Asthma Day is organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a World Health Organisation collaborative organisation, founded in 1993. This year, WAD will be on Wednesday 5th May.

What is asthma?

People who suffer from asthma have more sensitive airways, which can become swollen or inflamed, causing them to narrow, and clogged with mucus when triggered by specific substances. Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition, and the most common reason for urgent hospital admissions, among children in the UK.

While doctors still don’t know what exactly causes asthma, there are a number of factors that put people more at risk of developing the condition:

  • Having an allergy-related condition like hay fever, eczema or a food allergy
  • Having a family history of asthma
  • Having had bronchiolitis – a common lung infection in children
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke as a child
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke in utero (mother smoking while pregnant)
  • Being born prematurely or underweight
Infant using an asthma inhalator
Infant using an asthma inhalator

What can trigger it?

While asthma can sometimes flare up without an obvious reason, there are many common triggers to be aware of:

  • Allergies, such as pollen, animal fur, dust mites, etc.
  • Smoke, fumes or pollution
  • Infections such as a cold or the flu
  • Mould or damp
  • Exercise
  • Laughter or stress
  • Weather conditions, such as sudden temperature changes, wind, thunderstorms, cold air or humidity

What are the common misconceptions about asthma?

While over 12% of the UK population have been diagnosed with asthma (either living with asthma or diagnosed as children before growing out of it), there are still many misconceptions about the condition.

  1. Asthma only affects children – Incorrect. While many people who develop asthma as children do grow out of it, asthma can occur at any age and many adults live with the condition.
  2. Asthma is infectious – Incorrect. While infections like colds or the flu can cause asthma symptoms to worsen, asthma in itself is not infectious.
  3. You cannot exercise if you have asthma – Incorrect. If managed correctly, asthma sufferers are able to exercise normally. Some top sports players have asthma!
  4. The only treatment for asthma is a high dose of steroids – Incorrect. The most common treatment for asthma is a low dose of inhaled steroids, via an inhaler.
Photo by Deposit Photos

How is asthma treated?

Asthma is most often treated with inhalers – either a reliever inhaler for when asthma symptoms occur (usually blue coloured), or a preventer inhaler, used daily to prevent symptoms occurring (usually brown). Some people use a combination inhaler, which incorporates both to stop symptoms occurring and provide relief when they do start. There is also the option for tablets or injections for people who have more severe forms of asthma.

World Asthma Day aims to raise awareness of asthma in order relieve suffering and reduce the number of asthma-related deaths. Why not teach your early years children about asthma this May? Not only will they be more understanding of their peers’, or their own, condition but also may be more likely to notice if a friend is having an asthma attack and needs help from a practitioner.

References:

https://ginasthma.org/wad/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/treatment/

https://statistics.blf.org.uk/asthma#:~:text=How%20many%20people%20in%20the,all%20other%20lung%20diseases%20combined.

https://www.england.nhs.uk/childhood-asthma/