On Friday 21st June, the Asthma Society of Ireland warned the 300,800 people who have both asthma and hay fever in Ireland to take precautions as pollen levels begin to rise.
The Asthma Society has teamed up with Dyson Ireland to launch its Pollen Tracker on asthma.ie. The tracker provides an update of pollen levels across the four provinces each day, and a predictor of the pollen levels for the following day.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: “For the 300,800 people who have asthma and hay fever, hay fever can be particularly dangerous. Hay fever symptoms are capable of escalating an asthma attack, which in some cases can be fatal. Asthma deaths are rising in Ireland, with one person now dying every six days as a result of their asthma. In addition, people with hay fever experience symptoms which really compromise their quality of life and ability to enjoy the summer months.
With the pollen count predicted to be high over the next few days, we are advising all people who have asthma and hay fever to make sure they take precautions and to follow our “top tips for surviving hay fever season” to ensure they do not suffer a fatal asthma attack. Our free Asthma and COPD Adviceline is also available on 1800 44 54 64 and allows you to speak to a respiratory specialist nurse who is trained in asthma and allergies, who will be able to advise you on managing your condition(s).”
Tips to survive Hay fever Season:
- Keep an eye on their daily pollen tracker on ie
- Speak to a nurse on the Asthma Society’s free Joint Asthma and COPD Adviceline (1800 44 54 64) about putting a hay fever management plan in place
- Talk to a doctor or pharmacist NOW about taking medication to prevent / reduce your symptoms. Don’t wait until you feel unwell.
- Keep windows shut in your bedroom at night
- Keep windows and doors closed when the pollen count is high
- Stay indoors as much as possible on high pollen days
- Stay away from grassy areas, especially when grass is freshly cut
- Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes if you have been outside for an extended period
- Avoid drying clothes outdoors, or shake them outdoors before bringing them in
- Minimise your contact with pets that have been outdoors and are likely to be carrying pollen
- Consider a purifier with a built-in air quality sensor to remove allergens and pollutants from the air
Common hay fever symptoms:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Watery, itchy, red eyes
- Frequent sneezing
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
- Swollen blue coloured skin under the eyes
- Postnasal drip
Niamh O‘Halloran, who suffered a near fatal asthma attack because of her hay fever, said:
“Most of my friends with hay fever experience the itchy watery eyes, runny nose and itchy throat, etc. But for me, as I have asthma and hay fever, symptoms can be a lot more serious. It is essential that I manage my hay fever to ensure it does not lead to a serious asthma attack. In my teenage years, I suffered an asthma attack because of my hay fever which nearly took my life and left me in hospital for over a week. It was a terrifying experience and I did not know if I was going to make it.
“Today, I make sure to take my anti-histamines, along with all my asthma medications as part of my Asthma Action Plan. Controlling my hay fever is extremely important as it prevents me ending up back in hospital. I find the Asthma Society’s Pollen Tracker an excellent tool which allows me to prepare and take precautions on any day when the pollen count will be high.”
Dr Marcus Butler, Medical Director of the Asthma Society, said:
“Managing asthma becomes more difficult over the summer months as the nice weather brings a long and sharp increase in the pollen count. Research suggests that up to 80% of people with asthma notice a worsening of asthma symptoms due to allergies such as pollen, as their bodies trigger an allergic reaction. I see a drop in asthma control amongst my allergic asthma patients during hay fever season, which leaves them at risk of a more serious asthma attack. It is vital that all asthma patients with pollen or grass allergy have an Asthma Action Plan and prepare for the hay fever season to limit its effects.”
For any questions on managing your, or a family member’s asthma and/or COPD, call the Asthma Society’s free Joint Asthma and COPD Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64, where you can talk to a trained respiratory nurse about getting your hay fever symptoms in control.