Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system that is variable in severity, episodic in nature and affects people of every age group.
Current knowledge shows that the condition is most commonly caused by heightened responsiveness to allergen triggers (animal and vegetable proteins, or occupational triggers, such as dusts, vapours and irritants), resulting in inflammation and narrowing of the airways in sensitised individuals.
This causes one or more of the following symptoms: chest tightness, wheeze, breathlessness, and cough. Asthma is diagnosed clinically on the basis of characteristic symptoms and by objective measurements of variability in airflow obstruction.1
The UK has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, and, with an ever-increasing incidence, this is adding to the already enormous burden this disease places on the NHS. In 2011, there were 5.4 million people diagnosed and receiving asthma treatment in the UK, according to Asthma UK.