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Pollution could be worsening the impact of asthma if condition is not managed well

File photo of a person using an inhaler. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

File photo of a person using an inhaler. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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Pollution could be worsening the condition of those suffering with asthma if they are not doing enough to manage their illness.

As hospital admissions of young people with asthma were revealed to be rising in Norfolk, a charity warned there was a lack of care, and complacency about the condition, which could leave people more vulnerable to the impact of air pollution.

Latest figures reveal that from April 2016 to March 2017 Norfolk had a rate of 187 asthma-related admissions for every 100,000 children, up from 155 five years earlier.

During the 12 months, 335 people under 19 were admitted to hospital - 210 boys and 125 girls.

Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: “It is extremely distressing that the rate of children and teenagers admitted to hospital because of their asthma is on the rise.

“While the reasons for this rise are not entirely clear, a lack of basic care – including an asthma action plan, inhaler technique check and annual asthma review - could be to blame.

“We also know that a lack of understanding of the seriousness of asthma could also play a part.”

Two thirds of people with asthma told Asthma UK poor air quality made the condition worse, but if asthma is well-managed patients can cope better.

However, if those with the lung condition are not looking after themselves well, they could be impacted by pollution, although there is not enough scientific evidence to solidly link the two.

Earlier this year Norwich was identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of 32 cities around the country exceeding air pollution levels.

Particular areas in Norwich were identified as having especially high levels, such as Castle Meadow in the city centre, which has several bus stops.

Ms Walker added: “We are urging the NHS to invest in frontline asthma services to give people with asthma the basic care they need to keep them out of hospital.

“Parents concerned about their children’s asthma health should make sure their child takes their medicines, follows a written asthma action plan and attends an annual review with a GP or asthma nurse.”

According to NHS estimates, asthma attacks kill three people in the UK every day.

Does pollution really affect asthma?

Emily Hewett, from Oulton Broad, has asthma and said: “When I lived in the London a humid morning weighed down with smog would inevitably cause my asthma to flare.

“During the 10-minute walk to the Tube I would grow increasingly conscious of my strained breathing which then turns to panic and quickly the situation would escalate if I’d left the house unprepared and without a reliever.

“I’d often have to find a quiet spot on the platform to take a few minutes out and get my breathing back under control. Now, commuting into Norwich each day I certainly struggle when I’m driving and the traffic is moving slowly or is backed up. I can feel the fumes in my lungs even if the windows are shut.

“What makes it all the more frustrating, and in some cases pretty scary, is when you go to your take your reliever and it’s out of puff. Then you have to wait three days for the prescription to come through, and when you work Monday to Friday full-time it makes the repeat prescription process all the more difficult and stressful, especially when the doctor only dispenses one at a time.”

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