A staggering 5.4 million people suffer from asthma in the UK. Asthma is an illness that seems to belong to modern, Western society and its prevalence has been on the increase since the 1970’s.
Although mortality rates from asthma have been on the decline this is only due to the fact that asthma is now better managed. The various treatments are much more effective in controlling its more extreme possibilities. However, asthma remains an illness that can have a devastating impact on individual lives.
Analysis highlights some significant facets about the illness:
• Half of all cases occur in children under 10 years old.
• In this age group it affects twice as many males as females.
• 60% of adults who suffer are female.
• If one parent has asthma the chance of their child developing asthma is approximately double that of children whose parents don’t have asthma.
• Children born into households that use cleaners more are twice as likely to suffer persistent wheezing.
Currently, there is no clear culprit as to the cause of asthma. Many suspects have been proposed: pollution, smoking, modern living, central heating, house dust, exercise. None of these are the actual causes of asthma – they are either triggers to an asthma attack or create the environmental conditions conducive to an asthma attack. They are not the root cause of somebody having an asthmatic condition.
There is though a possible culprit with a degree of suspicion hanging over it; one that has previously been indirectly implicated but one that has never been closely scrutinised. As part of the interrogation I would like to look at a number of key questions.