Asthma Boy

Thousands of people with asthma suffer debilitating side-effects

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Thousands of people with asthma are suffering with debilitating side-effects after taking medicine to treat their illness, a charity warns. Patients suffer weight gain, sleeplessness and depression after taking oral steroids with some developing cataracts, diabetes, brittle bones and even suicidal thoughts, Asthma UK found.

Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: ‘Oral steroids are so toxic.’ Thousands of asthma patients reported sleeplessness, weight gain and even suicidal thoughts after taking oral steroids (Picture: Getty) Most of the 200,000 people in Britain with severe asthma are prescribed oral steroid tablets to reduce attacks. Tests have shown the drugs can cut the number of asthma attacks by up to 50% in some patients, The Times reports. If Theresa May really cares about workers’ rights she should ban tipping altogether The drugs work by blocking the effects of certain chemicals in the immune system, Asthma UK said. But a poll of thousands of people who suffer with asthma, conducted by the charity, found the drugs can leave some users depressed and suicidal.

More than half of those surveyed said they had put on weight after taking oral steroids and a similar amount reported increased hunger and sleeplessness. More than a third admitted they felt more anxious and had less energy on the drugs while slightly more people said they felt ‘irritable’ and suffered with tearfulness. Dr Walker warned that even low doses of oral steroids ‘should be avoided whenever possible’. Preventer inhalers contain low doses.

Asthma UK is calling for widespread use of monoclonal antibodies to replace oral steroids in treating asthma patients (Picture: PA) Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP, told The Times oral steroids are ‘stronger than inhalers’. ‘If people take high doses over a long period of time there can be nasty side-effects,’ he said. Young man discovers he has dementia at just 23 years old The charity is now calling for widespread use of a new generation of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. It argues the drugs have have been shown to cut the number of asthma attacks by 40% to 50% in suitable patients. While some of the drugs are already approved for NHS use, doctors have been slow to adopt them, Dr Walker said. Doctors tended to underappreciate the severity of side-effects for asthma patients, with assessment methods often not capturing their complexity, she said. How asthma affects patients Asthma affects the small tubes or airways that carry air in and out of the lungs, with attacks triggered by so-called allergens.

Allergens are substances that are harmless to the majority of people, but can cause an immune system reaction in those with the illness. This response leads to the lining of the lungs becoming inflamed and swollen, so the airways narrow, making it harder for air to pass through. Asthma is common but incurable and affects people of all ages – but often starts in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even go away as children grow older, but can return in adulthood. They include wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing which get worse during an asthma attack. Treatment usually involves medication which is inhaled to calm down the lungs. Triggers for the condition include dust, air pollution, exercise and infections such as cold or flu.

Source: NHS Last month, health watchdogs also gave the green light to a new treatment that dramatically improves the day-to-day lives of patients with severe asthma. The procedure involves a tiny probe that resembles a whisk being inserted into the lung. This emits heat that shrinks scarred lung tissue and aids breathing. Studies have showed it reduces emergency hospital admissions for life-threatening asthma attacks by 55% – and benefits continue for a decade after treatment.


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