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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 11:34 GMT
Asthma patients 'miss out'
Lung test
The UK has one of the highest asthma rates
People with asthma are missing out on essential treatment because they are not going to the doctor, research suggests.

Many believe their condition cannot be improved by medication and are taking a "grin and bear it" attitude.

However, experts say talking to a GP or asthma nurse can help people keep their condition under control.

In an article in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, doctors said there were several therapies available, which could make a significant difference to people's lives.

We've so many good therapies available now that there really is no need for many people to feel their asthma is holding them back

Professor Dennis Shale, asthma specialist
More than half (51%) of the 1,000 patients who took part in the study believed having asthma imposed restrictions on how they lead their lives, even if they are feeling relatively unwell.

More than two-thirds (69%) were resigned to the fact they cannot do certain things because of their asthma, including playing sport, going up and down stairs and playing with their children.

Nearly one-third (32%) avoided any physical activity fearing it might worsen their condition.

However, only 37% said they actually contacted their doctor if they thought their asthma was becoming worse.

Successful therapies

Only 7% subsequently took the time to attend an asthma clinic appointment, the survey revealed.

Professor Dennis Shale, professor of respiratory medicine at Llandough Hospital, Cardiff, said GPs and nurses had a "proactive" approach to asthma.

He said: "We've so many good therapies available now that there really is no need for many people to feel their asthma is holding them back."

The condition affects more than five million people in the UK.

Tara Jones, who has asthma, said: "I used to feel uncomfortable sharing with my GP how my symptoms were putting a damper on my social life.

"Once I'd spoken to my doctor, changes were made to how my asthma was managed and treated.

"Now I don't give a second thought to doing those things I previously felt I couldn't do.

The Asthma Control and Expectations survey was backed by Allen and Hanburys, the respiratory division of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline UK.

See also:

01 Oct 01 | Health
Parenting link to asthma
25 Sep 01 | Health
Passive smoking 'causes asthma'
11 Sep 01 | Health
Asthma rate 'soars'
29 Sep 99 | Health
Asthma risk for big babies
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