THE STATISTICS for asthma levels in Ireland are startling with more than one person a week dying from the condition that affects the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.
We actually have the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world today with almost half a million people affected. Out of Ireland's 18 and over population, 7.1 per cent have asthma. 18.9 per cent of 13 to 15 year olds have asthma, with an alarming 38.5 per cent of teens from the same age bracket reporting wheezing.
29 per cent of adult asthma sufferers miss on average 12 days of work a year, while children with the condition miss an average of 10 school days in the year.
Yet despite the levels of asthma in the country and despite the fact it's a serious, potentially life threatening condition, up to 60 per cent of Irish patients still don't have their asthma controlled. In 2009/2010 the Asthma Society of Ireland carried out a demonstration project in primary care which revealed that 8 per cent of asthma sufferers had been admitted to hospital. 14 per cent had attended A&E in the last year, while 27 per cent had been nebulised in the previous year.
45 per cent of asthma patients had at least one course of oral steroids in the previous year. A&E admissions are estimated at four times the admission rate, approximately 19,000 per annum.
The average length of stay with an asthma admission was 3.13 days. Patients under 15 stayed an average of 1.9 days, while patients over 65 stayed on average for 6.2 days.
While asthma is particularly common in Ireland, over 470,000 adults and children have the condition, no one knows what causes it. It can start at any time in your life, though it most often begins at childhood.
If your parents or brothers and sisters have asthma or an allergy such as Eczema or hay fever then you are more likely to have it yourself.
While the exact cause of asthma is difficult to fathom, it's believed that some aspects of modern living - such as diet, changes to housing and a more sterile home environment - may have played a role in the rise of asthma patients over the last few decades.