A local charity has issued a reminder to people with asthma to stick to their usual routine over the holiday period.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke said this is especially important as restrictions continue to ease and life returns to ‘normal’.
Professor Mike Shields, a consultant paediatrician based at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Belfast is one of NI’s leading experts and say it’s vital children stick to their routine.
“During the lockdown we saw a remarkable drop in the numbers of admissions relating to asthma attacks in children which was very welcome and was likely due to the reduction in air pollution along with the social distancing measures reducing the prevalence of other circulating respiratory viruses. As life returns to ‘normal’ it is absolutely vital that children stick to their routine and use their inhalers as directed
“Sadly, asthma can, on occasion, kill. There are several dozen asthma related deaths every year in Northern Ireland. We can reduce that risk if people use their preventer inhaler,” he said.
Neil Johnston of NICHS said it all too easy for people to neglect to use their inhalers over the summer.
“This is particularly true of children who – once school is closed for the holidays – have a very different, much less structured routine to their day.
“They need to continue to use their inhalers as prescribed and they need to make sure not to travel or go out without their medication.
“The reliever inhaler (usually the blue one) should always be with the child to treat asthma symptoms when they occu r. And they should know how to spot an asthma attack coming on and what to do if this happens, as this could reduce an asthma attack and save lives.
“A number of things can increase your chances of having an asthma attack. This includes air pollution. However, like all triggers, air pollution can affect some people more than others,” he added.
Neil commented following the publication of a report that showed there were marked improvements to air quality during the first lockdown in Northern Ireland.
“The Report commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs suggests that road traffic contributes 30% of Northern Ireland’s total Nitrogen Oxide emissions, and reduced traffic on the roads during the lockdown resulted in a short-term reduction of 20% in Northern Ireland’s Nitrogen Oxide emissions. We also saw a 44% fall in Nitrogent Dioxide (NO2) levels too.”
“We believe this improvement in air quality and changes in behaviour brought about by the lockdown contributed to a decline in asthma attacks during the lockdown. Obviously as restrictions ease there is the potential for an increase in asthma attacks and we urge families and children living with asthma never to be complacent,” he explained.