People living with asthma in Ireland today do not believe the condition is taken seriously enough, a major new study has found.
Some 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma - the fourth highest prevalence of the condition in the world. However, many of those affected feel that because it is so prevalent, the health system takes a ‘one size fits all' approach to it, rather than focusing on individuals and their specific goals.
The study, Living with Asthma, was carried out by the Asthma Society of Ireland (ASI), and it revealed that the condition can have a major impact on those affected. Many people who took part in the study said they felt lost and frustrated when it came to their condition, while some admitted that it had ‘robbed them of their lives'.
Many also said they felt abandoned by the healthcare system, due to ‘disjointed services and poor follow-on care'.
Commenting on the findings, ASI chairperson, Sharon Cosgrove, pointed out that people with asthma need to be relentlessly vigilant when it comes to their bodies, and many of those affected live ‘in constant fear of things getting worse' because of the unpredictable nature of the condition.
"They are limiting their activity levels, giving up hobbies and withdrawing from social and family life because of their asthma. They are embarrassed about taking medication publically, they are being teased and seen as lazy, overweight and inactive. These are very significant impacts on wellbeing and are without a doubt taking its toll," Ms Cosgrove insisted.
The ASI is calling on the Government to ‘take these findings under advisement and support a new approach to asthma management'.
Speaking at the launch of the study, Paralympic swimmer and asthma patient, Darragh McDonald, pointed out that asthma can affect people's self-confidence and mental health, ‘and stop them from doing everyday activities like exercising or running for a bus'.
"But it doesn't have to be that way. Our message is that living with asthma doesn't mean you can't be healthy and achieve your goals. With the right education and supports, I haven't let asthma hold me back from competing as a Paralympian. I urge everyone to follow my lead and contact the ASI to find out what they can do to change the way they are living with asthma," Mr McDonald said.
Currently in Ireland, over 5,000 hospital admissions per year are as a result of asthma, with the average cost of an asthma admission around €2,700.
Meanwhile, every 26 minutes, someone with asthma attends a hospital Emergency Department (ED) and one person a week dies as a result of the condition, despite the fact that 90% of these deaths are preventable.
For more information on asthma, see the ASI website here or our Asthma Clinic here