Bonfire Night could trigger asthma attacks in millions of patients

Millions could be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack this Bonfire Night. [Photo: Getty]
Millions could be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack this Bonfire Night. [Photo: Getty]

Millions could be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack this Bonfire Night, a charity has warned.

Asthma UK is urging sufferers to be extra cautious on November 5 after statistics show more patients are hospitalised with the condition around firework’s night.

READ MORE: Asthma deaths at '18 year high' – but what's causing the rise?

While Guy Fawkes Day signals the start of winter for many, smoke is a trigger for around 3.3 million asthmatics in the UK, the charity warns.

The smoke given off from both fireworks and burning a Guy Fawkes’ effigy creates “localised air pollution” that can irritate the airways, it adds.

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

The charity claims its helpline received 174 calls between November 2 and 12 last year. This is compared to the 146 calls from October 5 to 15.

Hospitalisations also tend to peak amid the celebrations, with more than 7,600 people being called in during November 2017, compared to 7,100 the month before, Asthma UK statistics show.

READ MORE: Smoking near pregnant women increases unborn child's asthma risk

Asthma is a common condition that affects one in 11 children and one in 12 adults in the UK, Asthma UK statistics show.

And in the US, one in 13 endure the respiratory disorder, according to

While many dismiss it just as breathlessness, wheezing and coughing, asthma can be serious, with three people dying from the condition every day in the UK alone.

Rather than miss out on the bonfire fun, Asthma UK urges sufferers to be extra cautious.

“If people with asthma take their preventer inhaler - usually brown - as prescribed, keep their reliever inhaler - usually blue - with them in case of emergencies and make sure their family and friends know what to do if they have an asthma attack, they should not have to miss out,” Dr Whittamore said.

READ MORE: Why are asthma deaths so high for young people in the UK?

Standing back from the bonfire or where the fireworks are being set off could also calm any irritation.

As well as smoke, cold air itself can be a trigger. Asthma UK therefore recommends patients wrap up warm with a scarf while out and about this Bonfire Night.

Loosely covering your nose and mouth with a scarf could also minimise the amount of smoke inhaled.

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