Scarfs protect against asthma attacks, charity says

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Asthma UK is encouraging people with asthma to wear a scarf this winter to protect against life-threatening asthma attacks.

For the third year in a row, Asthma UK has launched its #Scarfie campaign to encourage people to spread the message ‘a scarf could save a life’ this winter.

Of the 5.4 million people living with asthma in the UK, approximately 4 million experience a worsening of symptoms when breathing in cold, damp air. This is caused by tightening of the airways, which can trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP, said that although cold weather is ‘impossible to avoid’ in the UK during winter, wearing a scarf can help to prevent life-threating attacks.  

‘…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,’ he said.

Supporters of the #Scarfie campaign are raising awareness of how to protect against asthma attacks by taking a ‘scarfie’ – a selfie in a scarf – and sharing it on social media.

However, the charity has also warned that wrapping up is not a substitute for taking asthma medications as instructed.

Figures from Asthma UK show that one asthma attack occurs every 10 seconds in the UK, causing three deaths per day. More tragic still is that two-thirds of these deaths are preventable.

Of all those currently being treated for asthma in UK, approximately one-fifth are children.

Dr Whittamore continued: ‘We are urging everyone – whether they have asthma or know someone that does – to share the message that something as simple as a scarf could save a life.’