Oldham schoolboy dies from a severe asthma attack

A mother of three from Oldham has called for more awareness to be raised regarding the seriousness of asthma after her 9-year-old son, Joshua, tragically died from an asthma attack earlier this year. In particularly, his mother wants parents to more educated on the difference between the blue reliever inhalers and the brown preventer inhalers, in the hope that other lives can be saved in the future.

Joshua Platt had initially been formally diagnosed with asthma at the age of just one. Despite the early setback, he never let the condition hold him back in life and regularly participated in things such as camping, football, swimming, basketball, judo and enjoyed playing with his younger sisters Demi-Rae, four, and two-year-old Macie.

On 12 February this year, Joshua helped Joanna tidy the house and then went to visit his Grandmother. He had earlier awoken with what Joanna described to the Oldham coroners court as a ‘bit of a sniffle’ and a mild cough, but nothing that majorly concerned her at that point in time.

Joshua arrived back to his home in the Hollinwood area of Oldham at about 7pm and his mum promptly gave him Calpol medicine. After he then started to wheeze, Joshua began rocking backwards and forwards, requested his blue inhaler and asked his mum to rub his back. She says, “He was trying to take deep breaths while trying to talk to me at the same time but was struggling to do both. He was panicking and I was trying to guide him and try to get him to inhale slowly but he just couldn’t.”

Unfortunately his reliever inhaler didn’t have an effect on him and he lost consciousness, leading to Joanna frantically calling for an ambulance to get Joshua to hospital. Despite her best efforts to get him breathing again, Joshua was rushed to Royal Oldham Hospital and tragically, he was pronounced dead at 8.30pm that night.

In what highlights the condition’s severity, the inquest heard that severe attacks could happen to sufferers who did manage their asthma in addition to those who did not. Coroner Simon Nelson recorded a death of natural causes, stating there was unfortunately nothing that could have been done to prevent Joshua’s death. He further called for all parents, teachers and doctors to make sure that asthma sufferers are fully aware of the importance of their preventative medication.

His comments came after Joanna suggested that Joshua had come too accustomed to taking his blue reliever inhalers when his symptoms were showing, and had generally ignored the brown preventer. However, this works over time to reduce the inflammation and mucus in the airways. It could be that Joshua had ignored this type of inhaler as its benefits are not immediately obvious.  They are very important inhalers though and should not be overlooked by asthma sufferers. Gradually over time, the low dose of steroid medicine in the inhaler will have an impact and chest tightness, coughing and wheezing should occur less frequently. Some may even notice that they need to use the reliever inhaler less than before.

Joanna commented, “I think Josh had become laid back about his medication and thought that because he had his inhaler to use if he had an attack, he didn’t need to worry about the other inhaler that would prevent it in the first place. Everyone else was reminding him to take it but he was not aware of how important it was. I think children who have asthma need to be better educated about the importance of all their medication. Teachers and parents should be given more advice. Parents need to be made aware that whether you have got the asthma in control or not that this can still happen. They need to educate their children as well. A lot of people are so laid back about it and think that you can just rely on your blue inhaler but once those tubes close that’s it. To other parents with asthmatic children all I can say is don’t take the inhalers for granted and keep on your child’s back about taking the brown preventer. Josh lived life to the full and his illness never stopped him. He was loved by so many people and had a lot of friends.”

The story of Joshua’s death deeply saddens everybody at Medical Specialists Pharmacy and it shows exactly why we are such strong advocates for the promotion of better asthma awareness to help support the 5.4 million sufferers in the UK, and millions more around the world. Back in August we created an article trying to dispel the unnecessary embarrassment or shame that some asthma sufferers still have with the condition. We have also offered advice and stated some warning signs that asthma sufferers need to be aware of in regards to understanding if their symptoms are under control.

At Medical Specialists we have a wide range of medications to help asthma sufferers. If you are suffering from asthma like symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. Your doctor is able to prescribe medication if he feels you have asthma. If you have already been prescribed an inhaler or have lost your inhaler or run out and cannot get a prescription immediately, we are able to supply you an inhaler to help your asthma symptoms. We now offer both blue (relievers) inhalers such as Ventolin and Salbutamol, and brown (preventers) inhalers such as Qvar Beclomethasone, Qvar Easi-Breathe and Pulvinal Beclomethasone.

There have been occasions when some of our asthma patients have also requested a non-drowsy antihistamine such as Loratadine. Daily use of this medication is particularly helpful for asthma sufferers to reduce season allergies from exposure to pollen, exposure to dust mites, bed mites, pets, etc. or for those who experience severe asthma symptoms after exercise.

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