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Asthma and the cost of living crisis

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects 5.4 million people across the country. With soaring energy prices, it is less affordable than ever for affected people to effectively heat their homes. Moving into the colder weather of autumn and winter, this could lead to worsening symptoms for many.

20% of people with asthma in the UK have already experienced a serious attack due to cutting back on medicine, heat and energy caused by the cost-of-living crisis. This is a shocking statistic and is a terrible side effect of the UK’s current economic state.

On this page we will discuss the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people with asthma and other lung conditions.

Asthma worse in winter

Asthma symptoms will generally be worse in winter due to the colder weather and the linked increased likelihood of encountering common viruses and illnesses (such as colds and flu). Other winter related factors that can trigger asthma symptoms include cold air which can irritate your airways or damp and mould.

People cutting back after struggling to afford expenses such as mortgage payments and energy bills, will undoubtedly see a negative impact on the management of their asthma symptoms.

The inability to afford good quality heating, food and other vital resources could lead to serious illness/complications and even hospital admissions for many people with asthma and other related lung conditions like COPD, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis.

What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack refers to an onset of severe asthma symptoms. Although you may assume this would happen suddenly, asthma attacks can actually develop over several hours or days.

Every 10 seconds someone in the UK experiences symptoms of a life threatening asthma attack.*

Symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Being too breathless to eat, speak or sleep
  • A lower peak flow score than usual
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tight chest
  • General shortness of breath

It is vital if you or one of your loved ones has asthma to be aware of what to do in the event of an asthma attack. This will likely be discussed with a GP or nurse when putting in place an asthma action plan (treatment plan).

How to treat an asthma attack

When someone has an asthma attack it is important they remain calm and use their reliever inhaler (usually the blue one) to try and reduce the symptoms. Take a puff of the inhaler up to 10 times (every 30 to 60 seconds).

If this does not help it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Even if not serious enough to require hospitalisation, you should still see your GP or asthma nurse as soon as possible for advice on managing your symptoms.

Asthma rescue pack NHS

In cases of severe symptoms, the NHS may issue what is known as a rescue pack for asthma or COPD patients. This refers to a short course of antibiotics and steroids prescribed in advance and used at home if symptoms significantly worsen.

This will only be prescribed under very select circumstances by a GP or other medical professional. This will be a part of an agreed symptom management plan and it is advised to consult a medical professional if this is unsuccessful in reducing severe symptoms.

Cost of living support campaign gov uk

Anyone with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions may be understandably concerned about their health declining during winter. This is especially true if they are struggling to afford to heat their home adequately or pay for their prescriptions.

The UK government has put several schemes in place that may be of use. Vulnerable UK residents in receipt of certain benefits and tax credits will be eligible for various support payments. If this applies to you, you should be contacted about this or receive the payments automatically.

There has recently been a cost of living payment update from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), letting those eligible know the next payment will be paid soon – but there is no official date for this scheduled currently. The first of these payments (£326) was paid to households earlier in September.

The government has also recently vowed to try and control spiralling energy prices by announcing a two year cap on standing energy charges at £2500, though of course there are other fees and costs on top of this.

These support schemes and plans could provide a needed boost to funds for many people across the country.

Asthma life insurance

You may be worried that severe or worsening asthma symptoms could affect your ability to take out a life insurance policy. With asthma being an extremely common medical condition, insurers will have plenty of experience in providing cover in this situation.

With the current economic climate in the UK, many people with medical conditions will struggle to afford the necessities they need to stay healthy such as heating and nutritious food.

It is more important than ever to protect yourself and your family’s future at times like this. Insurance policies such as traditional life cover, income protection or critical illness cover can provide vital financial support in a difficult situation.

For further advice about how to put excellent life cover in place even with a pre-existing condition like asthma, speak to our EXPERTS or CLICK HERE for more information.

*according to the NHS

Useful resources

Gov.uk – Energy bills support factsheet

NHS – Asthma attacks

Asthma + Lung – Winter asthma triggers

Asthma + Lung UK – Living with asthma

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