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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 14:33 GMT
Asthma 'limits children's lives'
Child using inhaler
Many children said their asthma made them feel embarrassed
Four out of 10 children with asthma say the condition places limitations on their lives, a UK-wide survey suggests.

Some 85% of 17,340 children surveyed for Asthma UK and BBC1's Blue Peter said they experienced symptoms during the day, while 45% had sleep problems.

The asthma charity said if people had regular symptoms they were not managing their condition properly and should seek a treatment review with their GP.

Asthma affects 5.2 million people in the UK or one in 12 adults.

A lot of people who have asthma expect to have daily symptoms and we are saying that shouldn't be the case
Asthma UK spokeswoman

Those with asthma can experience breathlessness, wheezing and coughing, as well as acute attacks.

It is not clear what causes asthma, but experts believe attacks can be caused by allergic triggers such as pollutants or dust mites. Asthma is also likely to run in the family.

A spokeswoman for the charity said many sufferers expected to have symptoms daily but that this should not necessarily be the case.

She added: "The majority of people should be living symptom-free and certainly should not be waking up at night coughing.

"But a lot of people who have asthma expect to have daily symptoms and we are saying that shouldn't be the case."

However, she acknowledged that some patients may find their asthma triggered by the unexpected presence of allergens they normally try to avoid.

'Frustration and fear'

Most asthma-sufferers are treated with a combination of a preventer inhaler, designed to keep the condition under control, and a second reliever inhaler, which they can use in the event of an attack.

Around 20% of those survey said they were using their reliever inhaler nine times a week - more than three times the recommended amount.

While 36% said they were unsure about how the preventer inhaler helped their asthma.

One-in-three did not know what triggered their asthma and 32% were unsure about what to do if they had an attack.

Shared experience

Many had feelings of frustration and fear, and one-in-five felt embarrassed by their condition, the survey found.

Blue Peter editor Richard Marson said: "This was a chance for Blue Peter viewers to share their knowledge and experience of a condition which affects increasingly large numbers of them, their friends and siblings.

"We had an incredible response and one which clearly demonstrated the need to share information about ways of coping with asthma at all its different levels of severity."

Tips on how to cope with asthma can be found on the Asthma UK website.

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