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My hon. Friend makes a good point. It is easy to see this issue as 1 million hospital admissions and the third highest cause of death, without also looking at the huge effect on other sufferers. We know that 5.4 million people are being treated in the UK for asthma, and I rather share the view that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, in saying that a third of people have no symptoms at any particular time, may be making a slightly complacent comment. By the time I was in my late 20s I had no symptoms at all and I no longer needed to use an inhaler to do sport. However, when I had a problem one year with flu, they came back. It is a variable condition, and that can be underestimated.
Kay Boycott, the chief executive of Asthma UK, said:
“Asthma has many complex causes, which is one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. It is also a highly variable condition that can change throughout someone’s life or even week by week, meaning treatment can change over time.”
One of the great lessons to learn is that we need to monitor regularly for asthma. My hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage made a particularly important point about attending the asthma clinic for the test.
The Royal College of Physicians recently made a point about variability and how asthma can suddenly deteriorate. As it said, there are different kinds of asthmatics: brittle asthmatics who can move from having no wheeze to severe problems; others for whom it appears just in the early morning; and others for whom it disappears for a period. We need more research and a campaign on awareness.