World Allergy Week 2015

17 Apr 2015

World Allergy Week 2015 (April 13–20) is in aim of increasing the awareness of airway allergies such as allergic rhinitis and asthma.

Australia Wide First Aid is joining the initiative alongside many stakeholder groups including physicians, health promotion organisations such as the National Asthma Council Australia, patient advocates, the general public and importantly people who have airway allergies.

These stakeholder groups will address treatment and quality of life issues, educate people with airway allergy, carers and the global community all while minimising the human and economic burden of airway allergies.

Why airway allergies?

Airway allergies, specifically allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) and asthma, together affect 700 million people globally. The occurrence of allergic rhinitis and asthma are increasing in both developed and developing countries, with the WHO estimating that asthma will affect another 100 million people by 2025.

This year, World Allergy Week focusses on airway allergies and its global human and economic burden. Airway allergies have a particularly high socio-economic burden, reducing work productivity, learning performance and interfering with social interactions. It also has a psychological effect and creates a burden not only for the affected person, but their families and society at large.

Allergic rhinitis is a major risk factor for asthma, allowing both airway allergies to be associated with higher total medical costs, greater prescribing frequency of asthma-related medications and increased likelihood of hospitalisations and emergency visits.  

First aid education is not only focused on post injury or medical event, but is also a form of education focussing on prevention. If the Australian and global community can prevent and properly manage airway allergies via first aid education, the human and economic burden of airway allergies can be minimised.

First Aid for Asthma

If you or someone you are with is having an asthma attack, you should follow their personal asthma action plan. If there is no plan, you should:

  1. Sit the person comfortably upright. Be calm and reassuring. Do not leave the person alone
  2. Without delay give four separate puffs of a reliever. The medication is best given one puff at a time via a spacer device
  3. Wait four minutes. If there is no improvement, give another four puffs
  4. If there is still no improvement, call an ambulance or seek immediate medical help

The National Asthma Council Australia has First Aid for Asthma charts for children under 12 and for people of all ages. You can view them here.

First aid education for allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever is caused by numerous environmental allergens. Pollen from grass and seed plants is a common trigger in Australia; however, other triggers include cigarette smoke, dust mite allergens and moulds.  If it is possible to identify your environmental allergen(s) to allergic rhinitis, then minimising exposure to these allergens may reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

If you have allergic rhinitis, particularly if it is persistent or affects your day-to-day function, you can discuss treatment options with your general practitioner. Allergic rhinitis can also be prevented and/or properly managed via first aid education.

Five natural ways to control allergic rhinitis triggered by the common environmental allergen pollen are:

  • Try a Nasal Barrier. Vaseline or a similar balm can be smeared around the entrance of your nose. This idea of this is that it traps the pollen allergen before it gets into your nose and triggers an allergic response. 
  • Wear Sunglasses. Pollen primarily enters the body through eyes and nose, so wearing sunglasses will capture majority of the spores. Sunglasses can also help those people who find bright lights worsen their allergic response.
  • Use Your Phone. Find out what the daily pollen count is in your area. When pollen is high, it could help you make the decision to stick to inside activities for the day.
  • Get Changed. Pollen will stick to your clothes throughout the day, so as you arrive home you are dispersing the pollen, encouraging your hay fever symptoms to stick around for a little longer.
  • Dry Your Washing Inside. Hanging your washing outside to dry on high pollen days will result in your sheets and clothes being coated in pollen. Keep them pollen free by drying them on a rack inside the laundry.

You can find more information from the National Asthma Council Australia on managing allergies here.

Guest Author: Zoe Perl
Australia Wide First Aid