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Asthma in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs and airways, which causes the muscles in the airways to tighten and restrict, thus narrowing the passage of air. The disease can affect anyone regardless of age, but asthma usually begins in childhood. In both England and Scotland, just under a fifth of adults have been diagnosed with asthma. Additionally, around ten percent of children suffer from asthma. The most common trigger for sufferers in the UK is colds and flu, followed by changes in weather and dust.

There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are treatments available to manage the symptoms. Salbutamol is the leading bronchodilator dispensed in England for the management of obstructive lung conditions, with over 22.2 million units dispensed in 2020. Bronchodilators work by dilating the bronchi and bronchioles, thus decreasing resistance in the airway, and increasing airflow to the lungs. Around 40 percent of adult sufferers reported in a survey they felt their asthma was partly controlled, but a similar share believed their condition was uncontrolled.

Since 2000, the rate of mortality from asthma in England and Wales has generally declined. In 2019, asthma caused 2.6 deaths per 100,000 women and 1.63 per 100,000 men. The mortality rate among women has been consistently higher compared to the figure for men. A problem throughout the UK could be that, in many regions fewer than half of asthma sufferers stated to be receiving basic asthma care. Basic asthma care involves measures such as an annual asthma review, an inhaler technique check, and an asthma action plan.

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