Tough Times Ahead for Tracy – How the Cost-of-Living Crisis is Affecting People with Lung Conditions

With inflation at a high and the costs of food, electricity and gas on the rise, many people are worried about the winter ahead. For those with lung conditions, the approaching cold months are particularly concerning as many will struggle to heat their homes. We spoke to one of our members to hear her thoughts and address some coping strategies.

Single mum Tracy developed asthma more than 10 years ago after having had tuberculosis. The mum of four is currently working part time and has already felt the burdens of rising prices.

“My life has definitely been affected over the last couple of years with the rising prices. I’ve always struggled financially. It’s hard enough to pay the bills, so I’m always worrying and anxious,” Tracy explains.

Whilst the current inflation rate in the UK is at 11.1%, it is estimated that 6.7 million UK households are now living in fuel poverty, which has increased by more than 50% in the last six months.

As the typical household energy bills are expected to rise by at least £800 a year, many are cutting back and concerned about how they will cope.

The Consequences for Lung Patients

“The cold and the bad weather definitely trigger my asthma, and they cause my lungs to get sore,” Tracy tells us.

Alongside managing asthma, Tracy is also struggling with other illnesses. Taking time off work means she doesn’t get paid which only adds to her worries of paying her bills and being able to heat her home throughout the winter.

“I’m off ill today because I’ve got another condition that’s flared up,” she explains. “Even though I’ve been in the house today, I’ve avoided putting the heating on and I’ve just put my dressing gown on to keep warm.”

The cold is a common trigger for those living with lung conditions and not being able to live in a warm enough environment can impact people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

A survey carried out by Asthma and Lung UK has found that 1 in 5 people with asthma say that the soaring cost of living has caused life threatening asthma attacks as they cut back on medicines, heating, and food.

Furthermore, the charity estimates that 5.4 million people in the UK with asthma could be at risk this winter.

My life has definitely been affected over the last couple of years with the rising prices. It’s hard enough to pay the bills, so I’m always worrying and anxious.

Cutting back

“I find myself cutting back…we’ve got to,” explains Tracy as she reflects on the rising cost of living. “It’s not pennies that food items are going up by, it’s pounds.”

For many, everyday items are now becoming luxuries as people’s income doesn’t stretch far enough to cover their bills. Fresh produce, electricity and medicine are among the items that are becoming too costly.

“I try and buy as much fresh fruit and veg that I can, not for myself, but for the kids, but I’m finding it a struggle,” says Tracy.

Tracy is among millions of others facing these struggles. Referring to Asthma and Lung UK’s survey, 90% of people with asthma have already made significant changes to their life in response to the cost of living.

As 74% of people plan to heat their homes less, 63% stated that they are buying and eating less food, which can lower people’s immunity, putting them at increased risk of viruses that are the top trigger for asthma.

Coping Strategies

“I try not to dwell on things too much and take one day at a time. I’m obviously concerned about my gas bill, more than my electricity, because I’m getting some help from the government just now,” says Tracy.

Although governments are offering some support in these difficult times, it is uncertain how long it will continue for. In some cases, this support isn’t enough, so we want to make you aware of some resources.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself this winter:

  • Getting the flu jab
  • Layering clothes
  • Avoiding those with cold like symptoms
  • Trying to stay active to generate body heat

You can take a look at a wide range of coping strategies on the Asthma and Lung UK website here: Keeping well in the cold: what you can do | Asthma + Lung UK (

A helpline with Asthma and Lung UK is open from 9am-5pm everyday so that you can chat with an advisor for advice on your lung condition, financial concerns, medication and welfare benefits that can be claimed.

Find this information here: Support for your lung condition: helping you with rising living costs — Asthma + Lung UK Blog (

At the British Research Panel, we recognise how challenging the current climate is. We are continuing to place our focus on lung conditions with the hopes that we can contribute to finding better treatments and improving people’s quality of life.

If you would like to share any of your experiences with us, feel free to write to us at


Written by
Eloise Healey




UK food prices soar by fastest rate on record as cost of living crisis bites | Inflation | The Guardian

Energy price cap: Typical energy bill set to rise by £800 a year in October — Scope | Disability forum

Fuel Poverty Statistics Explainer | National Energy Action (

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