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Asthma: diagnosis, monitoring and chronic asthma management

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Last updated:11th Feb 2020

This guideline covers diagnosing, monitoring and managing asthma in adults, young people and children. It aims to improve the accuracy of diagnosis, help people to control their asthma and reduce the risk of asthma attacks. It does not cover managing severe asthma or acute asthma attacks. The investment and training required to implement the guideline will take time. In the meantime, primary care services should implement what they can of the recommendations, using currently available approaches to diagnosis until the infrastructure for objective testing is in place.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease. It can affect people of any age, but often starts in childhood. Asthma is a variable disease which can change throughout a person's life, throughout the year and from day to day. It is characterised by attacks (also known as exacerbations) of breathlessness and wheezing, with the severity and frequency of attacks varying from person to person. The attacks are associated with variable airflow obstruction and inflammation within the lungs, which if left untreated can be life-threatening, however with the appropriate treatment can be reversible.

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