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Common cold 'triggers asthma attack'

06 October 2014 09:23

Scientists have made a breakthrough into how the common cold affects asthma

Scientists have made a breakthrough into how the common cold affects asthma

Do you or does someone in your family suffer from asthma?

Researchers in London have shed new light on how a cold can trigger an asthma attack - something that could lead to new preventive treatments for the condition.

Scientists based at two London universities worked with other asthma experts to work out how the common cold can affect the condition. They found asthmatics produce more of a particular molecule that can trigger attacks when they have a cold.

They revealed that the IL 25 molecule - something that's central to the development of the common cold - was more common in asthma sufferers and caused a chain of events that triggered an attack.

The team compared the lungs of people with asthma to those with healthy lungs. The latest research may make you think twice about booking a holiday in a place with a cold climate - but wherever you find your winter sun, don't forget to arrange some travel insurance for asthma patients.

The team included researchers from the Medical Research Council, Imperial College London and King's College London.

They suggest that targeting and blocking IL 25 could offer a new way to prevent asthma attacks. It comes after the researchers revealed asthmatics were more prone to producing the IL 25 molecule.

Dr Samantha Walker, research and policy director at Asthma UK, said the breakthrough could potentially lead to the development of new preventative medicines for asthma attacks.

The research was published in Science Translational Medicine journal.

Am I at risk of an asthma attack?

There are 5.4 million people in the UK who are being treated for asthma. Wondering what to look out for when someone you love is about to have an asthma attack? Look out for the following:

1) Symptoms such as breathlessness and wheezing are worsening

2) Breathlessness is making speaking and eating uncomfortable

3) You are struggling to catch your breath and you're breathing is fast