Asthma is a common condition condtion in Ireland with 20% of school children being affected and 5% of adults.It is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways characterised by excessive mucous secretion and spasm of the the muscle cells that surround the bronchial tubes. Symptoms of asthma include episodes of cough, wheeze, breathlessness and a increased tendency to respiratory infections. Asthma is commonly triggered by viruses, exercise and allergens. Allergen avoidance is a key component in any asthma management plan.
No-one exactly knows what causes asthma but as many as 80% of children with asthma will have allergies, most commonly to airborne substances. Approximately 50% of people with asthma may have nasal allergic inflammation (allergic rhinitis) leading to regular sneezing, mucous and a blocked nose. Many of these will have had eczema in childhood and possibly some food allergy. Asthma is diagnosed by a clinical evaluation, lung function tests and allergy skin prick tests. Treatment is determined by the severity of the condition. Treatment typically consists of allergen avoidance, preventative inhalers where appropriate, reliever inhalers and a written asthma management plan.