Woman suffers asthma attacks after 'cutting back on food and heating'

Sharon Fleming says her health has gotten worse as she has made cuts to cope with the cost of living crisis.

Woman suffers asthma attacks after ‘cutting back on food and heating’ due to cost of living crisis Asthma + Lung UK Scotland

A Scots woman who lives with severe asthma and a neuro muscular disorder says her health has declined as she makes changes to cope with the cost of living crisis.

Sharon Fleming, 50, uses a stick to help her mobility and can’t leave the house unaided. She also has a heart murmur.

The mum, from North Lanarkshire, said that despite her health needs to she prioritising her 17-year-old son, who also has asthma, and making cut backs to survive the rising cost of household bills.

She said: “Because of the price rises, I have been cutting back a lot on shopping and food, meaning I’m not eating properly.

“I’m prioritising my son who’s 17 and keeping heating off during the day when he’s at school and putting on lots of layers. Because he also has asthma, it’s important that the house is warm when he’s home.

“I’m already worried about the Christmas school holidays as I’ll have to heat the house more. I’m also worried about using my tumble dryer as I can’t use the radiators to dry my clothes because of our asthma.

“We don’t buy any treats and I make do with what we’ve got. I’m housebound now so it’s hard to get out to access any help, like the community fridge or visiting second-hand clothes shops.”

Ms Fleming said mental health and stress has been affected by the recent price hikes which has led to a number of serious asthma attacks in recent months.

She said: “Cutting back on food and heating is already having an effect. I’ve had a number of serious asthma attacks and I’m also feeling tired and rundown a lot of the time.

“With bills increasing and the weather being to get getting worse, my stress levels and anxiety have increased a lot, as I’m continually worried about the how cold it’s going to be. It can get down to -5 and we also can get lots of snow here, so it can be really bad.”

‘I’ve had a number of serious asthma attacks and I’m also feeling tired and rundown a lot of the time.’

Ms Fleming shared her story as Asthma + Lung UK Scotland warn that winter pressures and cost of living is putting people with asthma, bronchiectasis and other lung conditions at risk.

In a survey conducted by the charity, one in three people with lung conditions said the soaring cost of living has caused their health to worsen as they cut back on heating and food.

The charity’s findings reveal over 45% plan to turn off heating and 47% intend to cut down on meals to cope with costs.

Over 3,600 people across the UK were surveyed as part of the study, including 294 in Scotland.

As winter is already the deadliest season for people with lung conditions, the charity say a significant rise in hospital admissions could be on the way.

The Saturday, a further increase in energy bills is set to come into force with food prices are also rising for around £500 per year

Asthma + Lung UK also say calls to their UK helpline from people seeking advice and support has soared by 89%.

Additionally, 93% of people in Scotland with lung conditions say they have already made significant changes to their lives in response to the cost-of-living crisis.

Changes include buying and eating less food and turning their heating off altogether.

Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma + Lung UK Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, people with serious lung conditions are facing a long, hard winter choosing between heating their homes or eating healthy food. Worryingly however, these are two vital components when looking after your health and wellbeing, which is especially important when managing a lung condition.

“We are hearing from people who are already seeing a decline in their health, and we are very worried that as the energy price increase bites, these numbers will increase.

“We are calling on the Scottish Government to provide more financial support to vulnerable people who need electricity to run medical devices, such as nebulisers and home oxygen”

Dr Andrew Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma + Lung UK and a practicing GP, said: “Winter is the deadliest season for people with lung conditions.

“Cold homes are very dangerous for people with lung conditions because they provide the perfect environment for respiratory infections to thrive. Cold air is a trigger5 for life-threatening asthma attacks and COPD flare-ups.

“In the longer-term, cold homes are a hotbed for mould and damp, which alongside cold air are also common lung triggers. “Breathing in mould spores can also cause a lung condition called aspergillosis, which can cause shortness of breath, wheeze, weight loss and a high temperature.”

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