If you are reading this article because you or someone close to you live with asthma, do not worry, you are not alone.
In Europe, 30 million of children and adults under 45 live with asthma. 6 million of them suffer from severe symptoms.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a common chronic disease that causes inflammation of the smaller airways of the lungs (bronchioles).
Asthma and allergy are the most common chronic diseases in children and the leading cause of school absences, emergency visits and hospitalisations in Europe. Where there is a child with asthma, the whole family is affected. With proper support, children with asthma can live and play like any other children.
How does asthma affect my body and life?
Asthma crisis results in breathlessness and wheezing. The severity and frequency of the disease vary from person to person.
For 90% of people with asthma, allergies are a contributing cause. Exposure to tobacco smoke and to chemicals are considered risk factors.
Asthma patients who have their disease uncontrolled experience fatigue and breathlessness when doing daily life activities and sports. Depending on the severity of the disease, asthma patients need to include healthy habits in their lifestyle, like eating beneficial foods for the airways, looking for good air quality environments, or quitting smoking.
Exercise, a healthy diet and a supportive way of thinking can significantly help ease asthma symptoms. In the case of patients living with severe asthma, taking care of those elements becomes fundamental, as severe asthma patients are less responsive to standard asthma therapy.
Who gets asthma?
Asthma can start at any age, but very often it starts at childhood. At least 1 in 10 children, and 1 in 20 adults, have asthma.
Asthma often runs in the family but other factors can also add to the likelihood of someone developing asthma, such as smoking during pregnancy.
What is the impact of asthma in Europe?
According to the World Health Organisation, 235 million people worldwide have asthma. Around 30 million of them live in Europe.
The total cost of asthma in Europe is 17.7 billion EUR per year, and productivity loss due to patients’ poor control of their asthma is estimated at 9.8 billion EUR per year.
Who can help me?
We recommend you to visit a medical specialist of the lungs, a pulmonologist, as they have been prepared to deal with asthma in all degrees. In some healthcare systems you will first see a general practitioner and be referred to a specialist. If you live with mild asthma your general practitioner can give you advice on dealing with symptoms and provide treatment that will help you.
You can also contact one of our Member associations in your home country. Most of them have a helpline, they can kindly respond to your questions in your own language and provide personalised advice.
You can also check our DVD for people with asthma and their carers “Learning to Live with Asthma”, answers many questions. For more help visit “Know Your Air for Health” website, available in English, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish, that we have developed to inform people with asthma about air quality.
To know more about our work on asthma, please visit our Asthma in adolescence project and the EU funded research projects in which we represent patients AirPROM, EARIP, U-BIOPRED and MyAirCoach.