Asthmatic people are being encouraged to wear scarves over their mouths and noses this winter as experts say breathing in cold air can increase their risk of an attack.
Asthma UK wants people to take “scarfies” this winter, encouraging asthma sufferers to take photos in scarves then post the selfie to social media to spread awareness of their campaign.
The campaign is in its third year and Asthma UK is encouraging people to use the #scarfie hashtag to once again spread the message “a scarf could save a life”.
Around four million people – three quarters of those with asthma in the UK – say that breathing in cold winter air exacerbates their symptoms, which increases their risk of an attack.
One asthma attack occurs every 10 seconds in the UK where 5.4 million people are receiving treatment for the condition – including 1.1 million children. Three people die every day following an asthma attack.
Asthma UK is encouraging people who live with the respiratory condition to wear scarves over their face and nose as it can warm the air before they breathe it in.
This year’s scarfie campaign is being endorsed by celebrities including actor Stephen Fry, Olympic athlete Jo Pavey and This Morning’s GP Dr Ranj Singh.
Mother-of-two Debbi Wood, 58, of Portsmouth, said she has ended up in emergency departments countless times due to cold weather triggering her asthma attacks.
She credited seeing the scarfie campaign on social media a couple of years ago with reducing her attacks during winter because she now wraps a scarf around her nose and mouth whenever she ventures out into cold air.
“I’ve had asthma for nearly 30 years, but you never get used to the feeling of having an asthma attack. It’s terrifying and feels like breathing through a tiny straw.
“Cold air has been such a problem for me, and even walking the distance between my house and my car in the early mornings would trigger asthma attacks so bad I would have to go to hospital… wrapping a scarf around my nose and mouth is a simple action, but for people with asthma like me it can make a huge difference in winter.”
Going outdoors on a winter day could be life-threatening for people living with asthma, Asthma UK clinical lead and practising GP Dr Andy Whittamore said.
“Living in the UK means that cold weather is impossible to avoid over winter but if people have asthma, simply wrapping a scarf around their nose and mouth can warm up the air before they breathe it in, reducing their risk of having an asthma attack.”