'Second-hand smoke put me in intensive care fighting for my life'

Data released on World Asthma Day revealed the top ten triggers for people in Scotland.

World Asthma Day: ‘Second-hand smoke put me in intensive care fighting for my life’ Asthma + Lung UK Scotland

A woman from Edinburgh has said second-hand smoke has left her fighting for her life in intensive care “many times” in a warning to people unaware of the dangers.

Olivia Fulton has been hospitalised because of her asthma on several occasions with second-hand smoke and pollution triggering life-threatening attacks.

The 38-year-old said she’s often left “terrified” to go outside.

On World Asthma Day, Asthma + Lung Scotland have shared the top ten triggers that can worsen asthma symptoms and leave people fighting for breath.

Colds and flu, changes in weather, exercise and cigarette smoke were all cited for worsening asthma symptoms can as well as lesser-known triggers including stress, pets, e-cigarette vapour, and alcohol.

Ms Fulton said: “Triggers for my severe asthma are something I feel like I am on high alert for all the time, constantly evaluating my situation to make sure I will be ok.

“The biggest triggers for me are pollution such as second-hand smoke, exercise, and salicylic acid. Some of these triggers are easier to manage than others.

“The scariest one for me is second-hand smoke and air pollution, because I have no control over it.

Olivia Fulton, 38, has been hospitalised on many occasions because of her asthma.Asthma + Lung UK Scotland

“I can’t control when people do or not smoke, even in places where they are not meant to.

“You can’t see air pollution until you feel its effects as your airways start to constrict, but often by then the wheels are already in motion and you end up having a full-blown asthma attack.

“It has put me in intensive care so many times fighting for my life.

“After an attack like this, it is terrifying to go back outside not knowing when you will next be exposed, and it could happen all over again.

“This was the same for exercise but only very recently I discovered I was doing the wrong type of exercise.

“I was exercising outside, exposing my lungs to air pollution as well as the stress of the exercise itself. Even though I thought I was taking precautions, it was never enough.”

The charity is urging people to take essential steps to help cut the risk of asthma triggers causing symptoms or an attack.

People prescribed with a preventer inhaler or a MART inhaler should take it every day even when well to keep inflammation down in their airways.

An “asthma action plan” should be made to note down triggers and annual asthma reviews should be attended.

Joseph Carter, head of Asthma + Lung UK Scotland added: “This World Asthma Day, we want to encourage the 368,000 Scots with asthma to look after their lung health by being aware of their triggers, getting an asthma action plan so they know what to do if their symptoms worsen, and having their medication and inhaler technique regularly reviewed by their GP or nurse.

“Triggers can be unpredictable and variable, and you should never be complacent about them.

“Asthma triggers can be difficult to navigate, and some, such as the weather and viral infections, are impossible to avoid.

“But if asthma is managed properly, being exposed to a trigger should not be life-threatening.”

“Every year, around hundred people die from asthma in Scotland, and many require emergency hospital treatment.

“Asthma + Lung UK Scotland, are calling on the Scottish Government to urgently make lung health a priority and to fully implement the Respiratory Care Action Plan, helping to ensure people with asthma get the support they need.”

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