Consultations for severe asthma in adults in GP surgeries across the country have nearly doubled in comparison to this time last year, according to figures from PHE.
The number of consultations has increased from just over two per 100,000 in the first week of 2014 to around four per 100,000 in the first week of 2015.
The highest rates were seen in the 64 to 74 age group who are considered the most vulnerable during the winter.
However, in the age groups four and under, and five to 14, the number of consultations has decreased.
'For 2014-15 there has been an unexplained increase of general practice attendances across December and January. The cause of this increase is unclear but may be due in part to viral and environmental/seasonal changes playing a contributory role. Additionally when an individual has a change in their daily routine, such as at Christmas, there is an increase in "unintentional non-adherence" to medications, especially inhaled therapy,' said Linda Pearce, a respiratory consultant nurse and a respiratory director for the strategic clinical network in the East of England.
'The National Review of Asthma Deaths report should be read by all clinicians and incorporated into routine practice. There are a number of key factors including ensuring all people with asthma have regular asthma reviews with a clinician (usually the practice nurse) who is qualified in asthma care. Inhaler technique should be checked, adherence reviewed and to support optimum management a personalised action asthma plan should be agreed,' she added.
Chief executive of Asthma UK Kay Boycott says that colds and flu make asthma worse and can put people at higher risk of an asthma attack.
The high rates of asthma consultation coincide with the highest rates of flu for three years seen in primary care. PHE figures show that in the first week of 2015, the number of general practice consultations for influenza rose to 18.3 per 100,000 patients in England.