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Asthma attacks in more than a million people linked to UK cost of living crisis rationing

29 September 2022

One in five (20%) people living with asthma in the UK – of which there are 5.4 million – have had an attack as a result of changes they have been forced to make due to rising energy, food and household bills, according to the research by Asthma + Lung UK.

More than a million people in the UK have experienced life-threatening asthma attacks after cutting back on medicine, heating and food amid the soaring cost of living crisis, a survey by Asthma +Lung UK has found.

Asthma is a common, long-term disease that requires ongoing management. Certain triggers such as stress, exercise and pollution can cause your airways to become inflamed and tighten when you breathe, meaning in extreme cases urgent medical attention is usually required.

More than 3,600 people with lung conditions such as asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Bronchiectasis, were surveyed by the Asthma and Lung charity and their report found that 1 in 2 said their condition had worsened since the cost-of-living crisis began, with many needing emergency treatments.

Another finding showed that almost three quarters of people plan to heat their homes less. Almost half are set to turn their heating off altogether this winter. Almost 1 in 6 are cutting back on using their inhaler to make it last longer, even though using a preventer inhaler every day is the best way for people to manage their asthma and prevent attacks.   

The charity is warning that with winter already the deadliest season for people with lung conditions, there could be a tidal wave of hospital admissions for people with lung conditions as cold weather, an abundance of viruses and people cutting back on medicines, heating, food, and electricity puts them at risk.

Abigail Broomfield A disability campaigner told DR UK that: “The cost-of-living crisis is going to impact my asthma massively. Cold weather is a big trigger for my asthma and not being able to afford to keep warm this winter will increase my risk of asthma attacks.”

There have been warnings from other health charities about the impact of the cost of living crisis. A recent survey by the MS Society found that one in five people with multiple sclerosis did not have enough money to start the medication of treatments they needed with a third reducing or stopping treatments or therapies, greatly putting their health at risk.

 Macmillan Cancer Support found that around 2 million people with cancer are already concerned about the cost of their bills over the forthcoming year. Heating for cancer patients as well as those Disabled people who cannot regulate their own body temperature, is essential.

Dan White policy and campaigns officer and one of the leads at the Disability Poverty Campaign Group responded by saying: “If there was final proof that Disability is disproportionately more affected by the cost-of-living crisis, then here it is.

"This research coupled with findings from the MS society and MacMillian echoes what we are hearing across the disability community, that trying to survive as essentials such as heating, food, and treatments rise in cost is becoming more and more a terrifying prospect.

"Disabled people and those with long term and lifelong conditions don’t deserve to be treated like this and left behind, they should not be making decisions that could prove fatal purely because Government support is failing them.”

Source and for further information see Asthma attacks in more than 1m people linked to UK cost of living rationing available from theguardian.com