Asthma is a very common long-term condition whereby the airways are inflamed and at times become narrowed when they come into contact with something they are sensitive to (an allergen or asthma ‘trigger’). It effects millions of people in the UK and can, at worst, be life threatening.
Asthma symptoms range from mild to severe and when asthma flares up symptoms are usually:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
Asthma can be treated very effectively and safely with a number of different treatments, which should be tailored to an individual’s needs. These include inhalers, oral medications as well as more novel treatments. Asthma symptoms, as well as the need for medication can be reduced if triggers, such as allergens, are accurately identified. An experienced allergist can identify these allergens using skin prick or blood testing and they can also carefully assess the severity of the asthma and the effectiveness of treatments using sophisticated modern techniques such as computerised spirometry and exhaled Nitric Oxide measurement.
Once the allergens are identified, this allows for the formulation of an individual treatment plan to keep the asthma under control and provide ways of dealing with it when symptoms flare. For those who do not respond to conventional treatments, the allergist can assess suitability for a range of new treatments only just becoming available such as sublingual desensitisation, laminar air flow devices (eg Airsonett) or anti-IgE therapy.
Professor Adam Fox
Date reviewed: March 2021
Adam Fox is a Professor of Paediatric Allergy with over 20 years experience in both the NHS and private sector. Professor Fox is Commercial Medical Director at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Paediatric Allergy at King’s College London and the founding Director of the KCL Allergy Academy, a postgraduate educational programme, which was a finalist at the BMJ Awards in 2018.
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