Information for Patients
Asthma is a common illness. For most people it is mild, and can be easily controlled. For some, it is more serious and causes frequent symptoms, or frequent severe attacks.
In asthma, the windpipes that carry air from your mouth and nose into your lung tend to get twitchy, and can go into spasm. This makes it harder to breathe. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and can often come and go. Typical symptoms of asthma are intermittent breathlessness, with wheeze. It is often worse in the early hours of the morning, and can be triggered by coughs and colds, or by exercise.
Signs that your asthma is not well controlled include:
> breathlessness that limits what you can do
> waking at night with wheezing
> lots of coughing, or needing your reliever inhaler more frequently than usual.
Acute severe attacks where your breathing is very difficult can be very frightening. If you are experiencing a mild worsening of your asthma, see your GP or asthma nurse soon. If it’s bad, consider calling the NHS 111 service free from any phone by dialling “1 1 1”, or visiting the NHS Choices website, or coming to A&E.
If your asthma isn’t perfectly controlled you need to see your GP or asthma nurse. If the GP or asthma nurse cannot get your asthma under control, then they may refer you to hospital. In Sheffield, we see patients from Sheffield and from other hospitals in surrounding towns, as we have a particular interest in severe asthma. Your GP or hospital specialist is welcome to refer you to us.
Where to find us and how to contact us
Our asthma service involves lots of people. The two doctors are Professor Ian Sabroe and Dr Shiron Saha. They work closely with two specialist nurses, Clare Daniel and Dawn Weston. In addition, a team of nurses and lung function specialists help to run our clinics and make sure we test your lungs thoroughly. If you need to contact us, Professor Ian Sabroe’s secretary is Mrs Claire Copeland on 0114 271 1828, and Dr Saha’s secretary is Mrs Lyndsay Ashworth, on 0114 2714661.
Our clinics take place at the Northern General Hospital, Brearley Wing, on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. You can expect to do breathing tests at each visit, and fill in a short questionnaire about your asthma control. At a first visit we’re likely to do a couple of extra breathing tests, and maybe a blood test or two. We will do our best to make your visit stress-free, and we try to provide a friendly and high quality service. We look forward to meeting you, and to making your asthma better.
We know that we don’t have nearly enough answers yet for asthma. We are therefore doing a lot of research into asthma. Some of this involves patients, and some is in the lab.
We take part in clinical trials of new medicines. We may offer our patients the chance to take part if they think they might be suitable. There’s never any pressure to take part, but some people like to have the opportunity to help other people by being in a study, and sometimes it comes with the possibility of getting new treatments. You’re welcome to ask us about these when you come to clinic.
We spend a lot of time trying to work out why the airways get twitchy in asthma, and in particular we are interested in finding out why coughs and colds are so much more troubling for people with asthma than for people without asthma. We do most of these studies in our laboratory. Professor Ian Sabroe leads most of this work - click here to visit his University of Sheffield web page describing some of this work.
Some of our most interesting work includes studies trying to develop new treatments for people with asthma, and studying how cells that line the lungs fight off infections. We’re always happy to talk about this research if you’re ever interested. Our work is funded by the major asthma charity, Asthma UK, by the Wellcome Trust, and also by the Government through the Medical Research Council.