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Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the lungs which can cause symptoms of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing – making it difficult to breathe. With over 5.4 million people living with Asthma in the United Kingdom, this is certainly a widely prevalent medical condition, with potentially severe and life-threatening implications if not adequately controlled or managed.
Focussing on the pre-pubescent age group, boys are typically more likely to be diagnosed with Asthma than girls, and this trend majorly changes after puberty, where girls are twice as likely to develop asthma compared to boys. This trend can most likely be attributed to the belief that male hormone testosterone can actually act as a protective factor against asthma, whereas the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone may potentially aggravate asthmatic symptoms, although this is not a scientific fact. The most recent research article carried out by Asthma and Lung UK has further highlighted that women both anecdotally and scientifically experience worse asthmatic symptoms than their male counterparts. Studies suggest that not only are women at greater risk of being admitted to hospital for asthma attacks, but also women with asthma over the age of 65 have a significantly higher risk of life-threatening asthma attacks.
In a recent interview on the matter, Martina Chukwuma-Ezike, discussed her experiences of living with Asthma, and reflected on a life-changing experience where she was pronounced clinically dead for ten minutes because of her asthma. Figures have revealed that over the past five years across Scotland, 407 women died from an asthma attack compared to 177 men. Martina stated “We know that sex hormones are playing a role behind these figures, but we do not know what the exact role is. Understanding this can also allow us to better support women living with asthma and hopefully reduce the number of avoidable fatalities.”
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Scotland’s only dedicated Asthma Charity, provides free evidence-based health information, confidential advice, and support to people with Asthma, their families, carers, and friends across Scotland. Commenting on the topic, Rafsan Chowdhury, Health Promotion Manager, said “More needs to be done in order to raise awareness on the impact Asthma can have on Women. With more support and funding to carry out research studies on the effect of female hormones on lung function, we can hopefully avoid the “one size fits all” approach to adult asthma care and better tailor the care to avoid preventable deaths.”