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Medical Panel and Phono - Adult Asthma

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Recently David Beckham was pictured using an inhaler, putting another name on the list of celebrity asthma sufferers such as JFK, the late Christopher Reeve, Bill Clinton and Lindsay Lohan to name but a few.

Why is it Relevant Today?
Hospital admissions for Asthma sufferers in worse in winter. As Ireland has the highest rate of asthma sufferers in Ireland, and the fourth highest in the world, many of our viewers will be suffering with their condition this time of year. Before Christmas we focused on Asthma in children, but as many celebrities including David Beckham has been seen with an inhaler for the first time recently, we're looking at how it affects the adult population in Ireland.

The reality of poor asthma control in Ireland was highlighted in the recent HARP (Helping Asthma in Real Patients) Study which found that across a number of participating GP practices, up to 60% of patients failed to meet international criteria for asthma control

New data from an Asthma Society of Ireland survey found that 76% of respondents do not have a personal, written asthma management plan, an essential tool in controlling patients' asthma

Who are the guests?
. Dr Patrick Manning - Respiratory Consultant and Chairperson of the Medical Committee of the Asthma Society of Ireland
. Dr. John Ball
. Denis Hickey

Case Study - Denis Hickie

Denis Hickie was one of the fastest men in Irish rugby history and has an incredible strike record for both Leinster and Ireland.

He is the most capped winger in Irish rugby (62) and one of nine players to break the 50 caps barrier. He is also one of Ireland's top try-scorers with 29 under his belt - a record only beaten by Brian O'Driscoll.

Over his 11 year stint with the side, he scored an incredible 59 tries in 130 appearances for Leinster.

He was called up for Lions Tours to New Zealand in 2005 before relatively early retirement after the world cup in 2007.

Dr. Ball

What ages can develop asthma?
Any age can develop asthma, but mainly from 5 - 30 years

How do people develop asthma?
It develops due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
Allergies - see below

Other theories of contributing factors:-
. Increase in environmental pollutants and allergens
. Over sanitisation - overuse of antibiotics at a younger age
. Obesity

Possible Allergens
- (factors that can bring on asthma)
1. Cigarette smoke
2. Cold air
3. Medications e.g aspirin
4. Pollen
5. Dust mites
6. Animal dander
7. Occupational triggers e.g grain
8. Exercise
9. Infections


Cough and shortness of breath/tightness of chest.
NOTE:-The key with asthma is that it is intermittent and really symptoms should be episodic and may be only present when the trigger is there.

How it is diagnosed:-
A GP will ask about:-
. Family history
. Investigating their exposure to the other allergic/atopic conditions as mentioned above (cigarettes, dust mites etc).
. Easier to diagnose when the child is wheezing, as this can really help the diagnosis. - Try to go to your GP when you have the symptoms.
. Breathing tests - a simple Peak flow monitor can be given to a patient to blow out as hard as they can and it gives a recording of how well the patient is.
. Spirometry - Test that looks at the patient before and after reliever medication

Over 50% of children will have developed symptoms before their 5th birthday.

When would you refer a patient to a consultant?

Cases are referred that are either resistant to treatment/ very severe cases of when the diagnosis isnt altogether clear.

Do you see more people presenting themselves to you with asthma symptoms during the cold weather?
Yes, this is due to an increase in respitory conditions such as flues, colds, chest infections etc that that trigger asthma symptoms.

Dr. Manning

What is asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways-the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

How does it affect the airwaves?

In asthma, the airways become over-sensitive and react to things that would normally cause no problem, such as cold air or dust. Muscles around the wall of the airway tightens up, making it narrow. The lining of the airways gets swollen (just like your nose during a cold) and sticky mucus is produced, clogging up the breathing passages. With the airways narrowed like this, you can see why it becomes difficult for air to move in and out and why the chest has to work so much. Tightening of muscle around the airways can happen quickly and is the most common cause of mild asthma. It can be relieved quickly too, with the right inhaler. However, the swelling and mucus happen more slowly and need different treatment. They take longer to clear up and are a particular problem in serious episodes of asthma.

Asthma in Winter:

People with asthma often find that:
. Chest infections,
. Sudden changes in temperature,
. Cold and windy conditions can trigger their symptoms and these can cause problems during the winter months.

How can asthma sufferers in winter control the condition

To "Stay Well With Asthma This Winter" the Asthma Society of Ireland urges people with asthma to take the following precautions

. Keep taking regular medication as prescribed.
. If cold air triggers your asthma take two puffs of your reliever before going out.
. Wrap up well and wear a scarf over nose and mouth.
. Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes.

Take two puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start (please refer to our Reach Your Peak with asthma exercise information pack).
The general objective of the Winter Initiative is to ensure that you maintain optimal control of your asthma.

For more information please visit

Fact File
. Ireland has the 4th highest prevalence of asthma worldwide
. Approximately 470,000 people affected (1 in 8 of population)
. Asthma is consistently in the top 20 diagnoses for admission to hospital
. 90,000 people do not have their symptoms controlled
. Irish adults with asthma lose on average 12 days from work per annum
. There is more than one asthma related death per week in Ireland". 30% of these are under 40 years of age.

Additional Information:

Dr. Ball is located at Fairview Park Medical Centre

If you have any questions that weren't answered on today's show you can call the Asthma Society Helpline on 1850 44 54 64