Breathe Easy This Christmas

Posted on December 15, 2011

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Take a deep breath in and let it out. If that was no simple task, you’re not alone.
Asthmatics all over the world find it increasingly more difficult to breath as the weather gets colder. Hospital admissions due to asthma attacks are at their peak in winter and statistics from Asthma UK show that up to 75% of those are avoidable.

Asthma is a serious illness that limits an individual’s ability to breathe as their airways constrict and mucus builds up in their lungs. It can be triggered by anything from exercise to cleaning the house.

Being an asthmatic, I know from experience that some people don’t seem to realise  how serious the condition is. But with so many people suffering from the illness, why is there still gaps in anyone’s knowledge? 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma. That’s 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12). Sufferers can range from only using an inhaler a couple of times a year to ending up on life support in hospital after one bad attack.

I’m writing this with a couple of hours sleep under my belt after a disturbed night due to an attack. I’m not alone, with 61% of asthmatics saying that difficult breathing stops them from getting a good night’s sleep.

So what measures can be taken to ensure that Christmas isn’t spent in hospital?

1. Stock up on medication.
I know you’ve probably heard it before, but I’m not telling you this for anyone else’s benefit. It is crucial that you have enough inhalers and tablets to last you over the coming season because who knows? You may end up snowed in (touch wood).

2. Get the flu jab.
It’s a pain in the arm and sometimes it stings a little but would you rather by laying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of you? Having the cold or flu can seriously impair your breathing. Getting immunised will decrease the likelihood of you sucking on your inhaler instead of mulled wine. It’ll also help prevent all the lovely vomiting that goes with it.

3. Consult your doctor straight away if you’re using your inhaler more than four times a day.
You may need to up your medication. Your best plan of action would be to get a doctor’s appointment early on in the season to ask whether they think you should increase any medication if you start to get worse.

4. Take vitamins that boost your immune system.
You can get them in capsule form or a tablet that dissolves in water and gives you a refreshing drink. To take a break from the doctor’s office, take a vitamin a day to give those friendly bacteria a helping hand. I recommend Berocca dissolving tablets which start from £3.99 in local supermarkets and chemists.

5. Don’t eat too much turkey.
Sorry, I now it’s Christmas but too much turkey can provoke an asthma attack. Tryptophan, an amino acid, can aggravate respiratory conditions. Foods high in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, dairy products, soy and seafood. Feel free to stuff yourself with the roast veg.

By Rose Dallas

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Posted in: Feature, Opinion