What is asthma?

Asthma is a common and chronic inflammatory condition of the airways. As a result of inflammation, the airways are hyper-reactive and they narrow easily in response to a wide range of stimuli. Whilst initially reversible, poorly controlled asthma, particularly in those who smoke, may lead to irreversible airflow obstruction.
Currently 5.4 million people in UK are receiving treatment for asthma, of which 1.1 million are children.

Why is asthma more common?

No one is really sure. It could be due to a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. The comforts of modern living are a breeding ground for the house dust mite, a common allergen in asthma. Another theory is that the increased consumption of processed food and the widespread use of antibiotics may lead to weakening of the immune system.
Allergies and asthma often go together, although not all asthma attacks are due to allergic reactions.

Asthma Nurse Specialists

The Asthma Nurse Specialists at NNUH are Sarah Harper, Julie Gribben and Karen Gibson. They work alongside the Respiratory Consultant Physicians who have a special interest in asthma and provide a point of contact for ward staff looking after patients admitted with an exacerbation, or ‘flare-up’, of their asthma. Patients who have been admitted to hospital are reviewed in the Nurse-Led Asthma Clinic, usually within 4 weeks of discharge from hospital.

The Asthma Nurse Specialists offer educational and emotional support to asthma sufferers as the diagnosis may be difficult to accept by some and may also mean a change in working, social & home life to those with severe asthma. Referrals to other services are made as needed such as the Respiratory Physiotherapist or counselling agencies.

The asthma service maintains close links with Primary Care. The Asthma Nurse Specialists are happy to be contacted by Practice Nurses for advice.

Contact details

Tel: 01603 289707

Additional information

More information is available from Asthma UK:

  • Website – which contains the latest independent advice and news on asthma
  • Asthma UK Helpline offers independent, confidential advice and support. You can call their asthma nurses Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800 (Option 1).
  • The Supporter Care Team deals with queries about membership, donations and information, plus any general queries you have about Asthma UK. They are available by telephone Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, on 0300 222 5800 or email (please note: they are unable to answer any medical queries by email if you have a medical query please ring 0300 222 5800 (Option 1).
  • Members of Asthma UK receive Asthma Magazines four times yearly.

Asthma UK publications

Request booklets, fact files and other materials with independent specialist information on every aspect of asthma, 0300 222 5800.