Asthma patients warned as Hong Kong temperatures set to drop by more than 10 degrees this week

Asthma patients warned as Hong Kong temperatures set to drop by more than 10 degrees this week

With another cold front on the way, a respiratory specialist warns asthma sufferers about the increased danger of attacks


Don't put away those winter clothes just yet.
Photo: David Wong/SCMP

The weather in Hong Kong is set to cool again with a drop of more than 10 degrees Celsius in the coming few days, reaching just 13 degrees this Friday, according to the Observatory. Respiratory specialist Dr Yeung Yiu-cheong warns that the big temperature swing could trigger serious or even deadly conditions among asthma patients.

“Big changes in temperature, whether going up or down, will definitely increase the chances of asthma patients suffering from attacks,” said Yeung.

Asthma attacks happen when the airways in the lungs contract, or get smaller. The symptoms include wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing that could be fatal.

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Air pollution, allergens and infections are other known triggers of asthma attacks. To reduce the chance of having an attack, the doctor said patients should keep warm and take medication in accordance with their doctor’s advice.

In Hong Kong, about 5 per cent of adults and 10 per cent of children suffer from asthma, meaning about 330,000 people, or 4.7 per cent of the population, have the condition, according to the Hong Kong Asthma Society.

Alfred Fong suffers from asthma and had successful bronchial thermoplasty treatment to reduce symptoms.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

While most patients can ease their symptoms by inhaling medications, about 5 per cent with a more severe condition require further medical treatment, Yeung said.

Alfred Fong, 23, told how he suffered frequent asthma attacks which affected his daily life in secondary school, being teased by other pupils for being unable to attend physical education classes or to climb the stairs.

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His condition was so severe that he suffered seven attacks in 2015 and was admitted to the intensive care unit twice, Fong said at a press conference on Sunday after becoming the first patient in Hong Kong to complete a new treatment, bronchial thermoplasty, at a public hospital in mid-2017.

The procedure involves extending a catheter inside one’s lungs and sending radio-frequency energy to heat up and reduce smooth muscle in the airways, thus reducing the airways’ ability to contract.

After the procedure, Fong said he was finally able to hike and only had one to two attacks since.

Edited by Jamie Lam


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