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Asthma is a common long-term condition which affects the lungs and airways. It can cause breathing difficulties, wheezing, coughing and breathlessness.
The cause of asthma isn't known, though it tends to run in families - you are more likely to have asthma if one or both of your parents has the condition. It often starts in childhood, but can also appear in adulthood, sometimes after an allergic reaction or illness.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by an allergen such as pollen, pollution, dust mites or tobacco smoke, by other environmental factors such as exposure to cold air, or by physical exertion.
Having asthma doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy, as long as you use common sense and look after your health. Most people find that asthma is easy to control by avoiding known 'triggers', and by using an inhaler prescribed by a doctor.
As with other long-term conditions, it's important to look after your general health, eat a good diet and take moderate exercise if you can. If you are worried about exercise setting off an asthma attack, talk to your doctor about what exercise you can do and how to use your inhaler to prevent an attack.
Make sure you take any prescribed medication, such as an inhaler or steroid tablets, as directed by your doctor, and don't stop taking the medicines without checking with your doctor, even if you feel well.
Breathe Easy groups
The British Lung Foundation organises Breathe Easy support groups around the country for people with COPD and other lung conditions and their family and carers. Locally you can find the following groups:
Open Age runs the Healthy lungs programme for people living in Kensington and Chelsea with a respiratory disease such as COPD.
In order to qualify for this class, the patient must have a diagnosed lung condition & have a clinical referral completed before attending. There are three classes running in the borough
Asthma UK has lots of resources on living with asthma, getting diagnosed and the treatments and help available.
The NHS website has information on asthma symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.
The British Lung Foundation has information and support for people with asthma and other breathing problems.
If you think you may have asthma, or if you are worried your asthma is getting worse, talk to your GP.