Jayne Torvill, 62, has become one of the oldest figure skating Olympic medalists alongside her partner Christopher Dean. While the skater found success on the ice, outside the rink she faced a health challenge.
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Speaking to Mirror.co.uk in 2017, Jayne revealed in her late 20s she was diagnosed with asthma, and her asthma attacks were triggered by ice-skating.
She explained: “I was suffering badly with hayfever and the pollen count was particularly high when I suddenly began to wheeze. I had shortness of breath, a tightness in my chest and I was gasping for air.
“It was very frightening and I went straight to the GP, who diagnosed asthma and prescribed an inhaler. In the years that followed I started to have sporadic attacks and found skating brought it on.
“The sudden change in temperature going into a colder place like an ice rink proved problematic – but changing career wasn’t an option.”
While touring America with Christopher in 1996, Jayne found herself having an attack at least month a month from being out on the ice.
She needed a medic to give her oxygen backstage.
Jayne’s asthma calmed down after retiring from skating in 1998 but in 2007 the attacks started again.
These days, she makes sure to carry her blue inhaler with her, just in case she gets an attack or becomes too breathless.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties.
The main symptoms are listed by the NHS as:
- A whistling sound when breathing (wheezing)
- A tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
If symptoms get worse, this is known as an asthma attack.
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Symptoms of an asthma attack
Signs you may be having an asthma attack include:
- Your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheezing or tight chest)
- Your reliever inhaler (usually blue) isn’t helping
- You’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- Your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you can’t catch your breath
- Your peak flow score is lower than normal
Children may also complain of a tummy or chest ache
What to do if you think you’re having an asthma attack
If you think you’re having an asthma attack, the NHS says you should:
1. Sit upright (don’t lie down) and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
2. Take 1 puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
3. Call 999 for an ambulance if you don’t have your inhaler with you, you feel worse despite using your inhaler, you don’t feel better after taking 10 puffs or you’re worried at any point.
4. If the ambulance hasn’t arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step 2.
How to prevent an asthma attack
Asthma UK recommends the following:
- Take your preventer inhaler every day even if you feel well
- Carry your reliever inhaler with you everywhere
- Check tour inhaler technique
- Use an asthma action plan to stay on top of symptoms – one can be downloaded from the Asthma UK website.
- Go for an annual asthma review
- If you smoke, get support to quit
- Get some advice on weight loss to improve symptoms
- Get active to boost your asthma health
- Ask your doctor or asthma nurse about the flu vaccine
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