Health organizations have warned that the cost-of-living crisis is causing patients to limit medicines, heating and groceries.
Half of the 3,600 people with lung conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis surveyed by charity Asthma and Lung UK said their health had deteriorated since the crisis began.
A fifth of respondents reported “life-threatening” asthma attacks as they restricted medication, heating and food.
The charity warned there could be a “tidal wave” of hospital admissions as cold weather, an abundance of viruses and people restricting medicines, heating, food and electricity put them at increased risk.
It is calling for tailored financial support to cover rising food and prescription prices, which are costing some people with asthma more than £400 a year.
The survey found that 90% of people with lung disease have already made significant changes to cope with the rising cost of living, such as Borrowing someone else’s medication and 6% not picking up their prescriptions.
Almost three-quarters (74%) plan to turn their homes off with less heating, while 45% said they plan to turn their heating off altogether.
Almost half (49%) said their lung condition had worsened as a result of the changes made, 20% reported an asthma attack or exacerbation, and 19% had to see their GP.
Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma and Lung UK, said: “Unsustainable increases in the cost of living are forcing people with lung disease to make impossible choices about their health.
“A warm home, regular medication and a healthy diet are important pillars of good lung disease management – but they all come at a price. We’re hearing from people who are already reporting severe deterioration in their lung health, including many with life-threatening asthma attacks.
“Life is at risk unless the government steps in to help people living with lung disease, including ending unfair prescription fees and providing financial support to people facing extra energy bills for medical equipment.”
According to a survey by the MS Society, one in five people with multiple sclerosis in the UK (19.6%) do not have enough money to start the medication or treatment they need.
And a third (33.9%) of people with MS had to reduce or discontinue treatments or therapies – risking worsening of their symptoms, according to the opt-in survey of 1,108 people with MS conducted between April and May. suggests.
It was also found that 40% of respondents need to borrow money to make ends meet.
The charity is launching an emergency campaign, urging people on welfare to get extra financial support from the government to get them through the winter.
Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “As energy bills soar on October 1st, millions of people will find themselves in increasingly cold and damp homes, exacerbating pre-existing health conditions.
“The government may have missed an opportunity to help people in the recent household, but there is still a small window of opportunity to get urgent financial help to people who need it most.
“But the reality now is that the NHS and social care system will face even more undue pressure in winter as more people suffer from fuel poverty and plans need to be made to cope with this influx of patients.”
Macmillan Cancer Support also warned patients are facing an “impossible choice” between coming to hospital appointments or buying groceries, as record numbers are turning to the charity for financial help already this year.
New figures from Macmillan suggest an estimated two million people with cancer in the UK (66%) are already concerned about the cost of food or water over the next 12 months.
And the charity says cost pressures have caused at least 20,000 cancer patients (6%) to postpone or cancel trips to see doctors.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive of the charity, said: “This is an extremely challenging time for people living with cancer. Not only are many grappling with continued delays in cancer treatment and benefit payments, they are now burdened with the rising cost of living and fear the worst is yet to come this winter.”