Respiratory nurses at PAH want to stop people dying ‘needlessly’ from asthma attacks

AS an asthma charity is reporting this week that people are dying “needlessly” from asthma attacks which could be prevented, nurses at The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust are reminding their patients of the help and support readily available.

Asthma UK says that more than 1,400 adults and children died from asthma attacks in 2018 – 2.5 people out of every 100,000.

Attacks can be prevented with more care and support and the specialist nurses are here to help patients to better manage their condition, both in the hospital and in the community.

Respiratory nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) are keen to help people living with asthma manage the condition, as well as prevent its severity.

The specialist nurses provide extra guidance and training so staff on different wards can teach patients in use of respiratory aids, as well as raising awareness of the condition and its management among patients and families.

They stress the importance of using inhalers to best effect. They hold regular study days, as well as attending specialist nationwide forums to share best practice across the health system, and ensure that skills are kept updated throughout the hospital.

Asthma is particularly distressing for children and frightening for parents and carers every time an attack occurs.

It is important for parents to recognise signs so that once confirmed, the asthma can be managed effectively in their child. The signs of childhood asthma can range from a cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies. Common signs parents should be on the lookout for include:

•Coughing, especially at night
•A wheezing or whistling sound, especially when breathing out
•Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
•Frequent colds that settle in the chest.

Your child might have only one of these symptoms or several of them.

Dr Ravi Ragatha, respiratory specialty doctor, explained that recognising symptoms is vital, and that following diagnosis and prescription of medication, a management routine should be put in place, to boost the child’s confidence in controlling the condition.

“When an inhaler is prescribed, it is helpful if parents can guide the child to become familiar with it. For instance, children should use an inhaler with a spacer. Learning to administer the correct dosage is also essential. It is also important to monitor peak flow rate using a peak flow meter which can pick up early exacerbation of asthma.”

Dr Ragatha added: “Severe asthma attacks are traumatic for patients and families, so anything we can do to help patients manage the condition to reduce severity and avoid acute episodes is really important.”
If you need more information or advice, please contact paht.respiratory.nurses@nhs.net

Facts about asthma

•Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus.
•It can start at any age, but begins mostly in childhood, with most children having their first symptoms by age 5.
•Asthma symptoms can appear at any time in life. People can develop asthma at age 60, or even later.
•Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled.
•Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:

Airborne substances, such as pollen, pets, dust mites, and mould spores
Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
Physical activity
Cold air
Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen
Strong emotions and stress
Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and drink, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed
potatoes, beer and wine
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat

Useful websites:

https://www.asthma.org.uk/

https://www.blf.org.uk/ The BLF runs Breathe Easy support groups. Find out more on the BLF website

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/

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