Asthma is a lung condition that can narrow your airways, make them swell and produce extra mucus which results in difficulty breathing. While some patients may eventually outgrow it, for others it is a life-long condition. It often causes significant problems that interfere with daily activities or tasks with some asthma attacks even being life-threatening.
For people living with asthma and for those who love someone living with the condition, finding helpful resources is invaluable. Support from the medical community and other sufferers can provide additional insight into this condition and how to successfully manage it. VirtualOutcomes provides asthma training for pharmacy teams to further develop their knowledge and ability to effectively communicate with local communities.
Even though there is currently no cure for the condition, medication can control the associated symptoms. It is important that people understand that asthma often changes over time and that they need to work with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
What Happens During An Asthma Attack?
The onset of inflammatory events in the respiratory system can lead to severe symptoms. Attacks start when symptoms are at their peak and can range from mild to severe. In serious cases, the airways can swell up completely and prevent any oxygen from reaching the lungs. This also stops air from entering the bloodstream and vital organs including the heart and brain. This type of attack can be fatal and will require urgent hospitalisation.
During an asthma attack, the airways still allow enough air into the lungs but they do not expel carbon dioxide from the lungs fast enough. It is poisonous if the body does not get rid of it and prolonged attacks could result in a build-up of carbon dioxide in the lungs. This, of course, may lead to a further reduction in the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream.
Anyone presenting with symptoms such as chest tightness, pain or pressure, wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing especially at night should visit a doctor as they will provide the necessary treatments and management techniques. In addition to treatments, they can also help identify potential triggers for asthma attacks and advise patients on how to avoid them. While no medicine can cure the disease at this point, they can effectively control and reduce the impact that the condition has on everyday living.
Factors Associated With Asthma
There are a number of associated factors and healthcare professionals can make a real difference. This not only refers to the patient’s actual condition but also their quality of life by making them aware of the main factors and how to reduce or minimise them. Some of the main factors include:
- poor asthma technique and not using inhalers as prescribed
- lifestyle choices such as smoking and being overweight
- lack of understanding what triggers the attacks
- poor perception of what good control looks like for both patient and healthcare professional
In addition to asthma training for pharmacy teams, remember that VirtualOutcomes also offer courses on obesity and smoking among many others.
Asthma Statistics And The Economic Impact
Asthma is a common long-term or chronic disease which affects 5.4 million people in the UK, totalling 4.3 million adults and 1.1 million children. It affects one in every 11 people and one in 5 households and people of all ages. While it often starts in childhood, it can also develop for the first time as an adult.
There is no denying that it is a serious condition as someone has a potentially life-threatening attack every 10 seconds. Some of these cases can be so severe that people end up hospitalised. According to the Office of National Statistics, 1320 people died from asthma in 2017 in the UK
According to research at the University of Edinburgh, asthma has a huge economic impact, costing the UK health services at least £1.1 billion each year. The study also found that there were about £6.4 million GP visits and nurse consultations per year with at least £666 million spent on prescriptions, £143 million on disability claims and £137 million on hospital care.
If those figures aren’t enough to make you sit up straight, the research team believed that these numbers could, in fact, be much higher. The main reason is that it did not take into account people for whom asthma was not the primary illness.
Tools To Help Manage Asthma Patients
There are a number of tools available to help patients understand and manage their condition more effectively. For example, the Asthma Control Test consists of 5 simple questions where the answers can show how good a person’s asthma is being controlled.
Another useful new tool is called the Asthma Right Care Slide Rule and that can really help patients understand their reliever (blue inhaler) usage and whether they are overusing.
VirtualOutcomes is a leading institution that provides online training for pharmacy teams to help further develop their knowledge. We strongly advise all team members to remain up to date in order to provide the best possible healthcare services and advice to the public. Contact us to find out more about our courses and how you can register.