Bonfire and fireworks could trigger asthma attacks for millions, charity warns

Bonfire night could trigger potentially deadly asthma attacks for millions of sufferers, a health charity has warned.

Asthma UK said lingering smoke particles from bonfire and firework displays can create localised air pollution, which is a trigger for around 3.3 million people in the UK with the condition.

The charity said it received 174 calls to its helpline between November 2 to 12 last year compared to 146 calls between October 5 and 15 2018.

Meanwhile, more than 7,600 people were admitted to hospital with asthma in the UK in November 2017, compared to 7,100 in the month prior, the charity said.

Asthma season warning to parents
Asthma UK said it saw an increase in calls to its helpline around bonfire night in 2018 (Brian Lawless/PA)

Asthma causes inflammation of the airways, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Three people die from having an asthma attack every day in the UK, the charity said.

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP, said: “Fireworks and bonfire displays might look pretty but if you have asthma triggered by smoke, they could land you in hospital.

“The good news is if people with asthma follow our top tips such as taking their preventer inhaler, usually brown, as prescribed, keeping their reliever inhaler, usually blue, with them in case of emergencies and making sure their family and friends know what to do if they have an asthma attack, they should not have to miss out on festivities.”

Battle of the Boyne bonfires
Asthma UK has warned that smoke from bonfires could trigger asthma attacks in some people (Brian Lawless/PA)

Asthma UK has advised people with the condition to carry their reliever inhaler and take preventative medicines as prescribed.

It said people should stand back from the fireworks and bonfire if smoke is making them cough.

The charity said cold air can also be an asthma trigger and advised sufferers to wrap a thin scarf loosely over their nose and mouth.

Asthma UK has more health advice on its website at asthma.org.uk/bonfire-night.

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