This week marks World Asthma Day right across the globe. It also, by curious coincidence, marks the day I was diagnosed as having asthma. That's four years ago now. Four years of twice-daily medication and monitoring my lungs. Four years of being conscious of any potential irritant that might trigger a full-blown attack. But also four years of learning, of grabbing back on to life, of adventure and of improved fitness.  How time flies when you're wheezing your airways out!

A diagnosis of any life-long condition can be a huge shock to the system. You have to learn to see yourself differently. And you worry that others will too. It's not easy accepting that this is it. You have asthma, and it's not going anywhere. It's an incurable disease and although there are absolutely many much worse conditions to contend with, it's not immediately that easy to gain perspective. It's all very well encouraging someone else to adopt that approach, but it's a whole different thing when it's your own airways playing up. But,once you've been through the various stages of being disappointed, sad, angry, defiant and sometimes scared, once you adjust to the situation, assuming you have a condition like mine that can be largely controlled, life can be so much more fulfilling.

For starters  you are receiving the medication you need to help you feel better, to help you breathe. And that has to be a good thing! And as you feel better, you feel more confident and more able to get out there and enjoy yourself. Having asthma is life-changing, but having asthma treated properly is equally so. It wasn't always so easy. I often complain (mostly to myself, since everyone else has stopped listening), that just as I developed a love of tiny clutch bags, I found myself having to lug at least one inhaler and a spacer, everywhere I go so necessitating a larger handbag. But I shouldn't complain. In years gone by 'treatments' for asthma were very limited. The Egyptians inhaled the fumes of herbs heated on bricks. Hippocrates prefered blood letting. Linctus medicine made from various herbs and animal parts (foxes' lungs, anyone?), and even smoking opium were used as common treatments. So the less inconvenient, and much less disgusting, inhalers seem like a minor issue by comparison.

As it happens I live in Derby, a city at the very forefront of asthma and allergy care. Doctor Harry Morrow Brown, one of the world's leading experts in asthma and allergy, who came to work in the city in the late 1950s, pioneered many of the treatments we rely upon today, including the fabulous steroid inhaler.  And I wouldn't like to have to manage without that. While I am determined that having asthma will not stop me living my life with all the gusto I can muster, there are days and occasions when the practicalities of being asthmatic just get in the way. At this time of year, with the pollen levels and the breezes and the cool weather I can really struggle when I'm out of doors. I don't want to not do things, but I have to be sensible about it. And that is frustrating.  That's why I'm so grateful to experts like Dr Morrow Brown and his colleagues and to organisations like Asthma UK who devote so much time and energy to making the lives of asthmatics so much better.

I have had allergies all my life and I am aware that I can be a bit evangelical about my asthma.I do try not to be. I don't want to be an asthma bore. But it's something that matters to me. And to millions of others. Because it's not something you can afford to take for granted. It's all too easy to think that, because we're feeling fine, and keeping things under control, we're not at risk from our asthma. That's why this year's Asthma UK campaign is all about getting asthmatics to think about their asthma symptoms and take them more seriously. They want to reduce asthma-related hospital admissions dramatically, so have produced a test - the Triple A Test - to help asthmatics judge how much at risk they are from a serious attack. You can take the test yourself here.