Over three-quarters of asthma sufferers in the UK are not aware that they are at risk of a fatal attack, mistakenly thinking their condition is under control.

That is one of many alarming conclusions to come out of a survey conducted by Allergy UK and funded by Novartis. Based on findings from 464 participants, the report notes that 78% of sufferers who think their asthma is mild or moderate use up to four reliever inhalers a month. “In reality they shouldn’t even need to use one per month if their disease is well controlled,” the charity notes.

Allergy UK states that at least 60% of asthma is triggered by allergens, including house dust mite, pollen, animal dander, mould and foods. However, only 37% of the asthma sufferers surveyed had been allergy tested.

Nearly half of those who class their asthma as mild or moderate have been prescribed oral steroids in the past 12 months but “using this level of medication means the condition isn’t under control, as it should only be necessary in an emergency, or in the most severe asthma cases”. Allergy UK adds that 16% of those who wrongly think their asthma is under control have taken six or more days off work or school in the past year because of their condition.

Three people a day die of asthma
Lindsey McManus, deputy chief executive at Allergy UK, noting that three people a day die of asthma in this country, said “these shocking survey results reflect what we hear time and time again from the people that call our helpline. People ‘put up with’ their asthma symptoms and continue to use medication that isn’t treating the inflammation, rather than seeking help to get their asthma under control. They just don’t realise they are putting themselves in danger and could soon find themselves in A&E”.

Over one in five sufferers (22%) surveyed had not had an asthma review for over a year and Ms McManus said that having one “is the only way to ensure that the asthma crisis doesn’t worsen”.