'Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell. Sometimes, sticky mucus or phlegm builds up, which can further narrow the airways.

These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breath and leading to symptoms of asthma.
The usual symptoms of asthma are:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people experience them from time to time; a few people may experience these symptoms all the time.

Asthma action plan

If you use an asthma action plan you are four time less likely to have an attack that requires emergency hopsital treatment. Fill this in with your GP or asthma nurse. It will help you to know what medicines to take and when, how to recognise when your asthma symptoms change and what to do when this happens.

We have developed local personalised asthma action plans for children and adults, available to download here:


Further education opportunities can be found by visiting the education resources section.

Education for Health: Supporting Children's Health is free resource for anyone working with children with asthma. Being aware of the condition and its triggers can help to ensure children with asthma in your care are safe and can get involved with the same activities as any other child without issue or harm.

Reports and priorities

National Review of Asthma Deaths - Commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD): Why Asthma Still Kills was published in May 2014. This confidential enquiry is the first national investigation of asthma deaths in the UK. The primary aim of the NRAD was to understand the circumstances surrounding asthma deaths in the UK in order to identify avoidable factors and make recommendations to improve care and reduce the number of deaths.

A number of key findings and recommendations are outlined in the report. Fife Respiratory MCN has begun developing local initiatives in line with the recommendations.

Asthma Priorities: Influencing the Agenda - to support local implementation of the SIGN / BTS British Guideline on the Management of Asthma, a prioritisation process was piloted via the National Advisory Group for Respiratory MCNs. Local Respiratory MCNs were presented with a list of 10 options and asked to rank them in order of importance and results were collated on a national basis, taking regional variations into consideration.

Three regional workshops were organised in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen during May and June 2012, The main objective of the workshops was to allow delegates the opportunity to discuss the priorities in detail and identify corresponding ' measurements of success' against which a national benchmark could be assessed.