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Respiratory Health — [Nadine Dorries in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:57 pm on 3rd February 2015.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire 2:57 pm, 3rd February 2015

Rightly, my hon. Friend Stephen McPartland and other Members who have contributed have talked about the most serious incidents and life-threatening situations. I want to say a few words about mild asthma, of the sort that can affect someone playing sport. If we are talking about campaigning about asthma awareness, there are quite a lot of people who are not going to die because of their asthma but whose lives are spoilt by it.

My own experience is that when I was young I was a keen rugby player. I could play rugby, but after a match I was always wheezy. It never occurred to me that that was because of a medical condition, but I was talking to my doctor one day, when I had been playing rugby for years—I was in my teens at the time—and he said, “Actually, we can help you with that.” He gave me an inhaler and told me to take a puff before I played, and my life was transformed. There was no more wheezing and I improved; I was able to play rugby much better, and was able really to enjoy it for the first time. There must be a lot of people in the country who have not really realised that they have asthma, as it is undiagnosed.

My first point is that in making people aware of respiratory conditions we are talking not just about saving lives but about improving the quality of people’s lives. I am told that there are any number of top sportsmen who have the same condition of mild exercise asthma.