It's easy for the festive and summer holiday period to become the season of sneezing and wheezing say experts at the National Asthma Council Australia.
Unseasonal weather patterns around the country and increased pollen in the air as well as a host of hidden asthma and allergy triggers from Christmas trees to dusty holiday homes present risks for the two million plus Aussies with asthma.
National Asthma Council Australia CEO, Kristine Whorlow, urged people with asthma and allergies, especially families with children, to take special care and stay safe this Christmas and New Year.
“The festive period should be a time for relaxation and enjoyment, but an asthma or allergy flare-up can spoil the fun in the most serious way. Taking simple precautions can reduce symptoms, helping you and your family make the most of your summer holiday time together.
“You will have significantly less problems with asthma and allergies if you are well prepared and your Christmas and holiday surroundings are clean and dust and mould free,” explained Ms Whorlow.
“Very importantly, given recent weather patterns, be aware of summer thunderstorm warnings and monitor the pollen counts from the Bureau of Meteorology. If there is a thunderstorm warning, stay inside with the windows closed or in air-conditioned areas to reduce your allergen exposure.”
With many Australians travelling over Christmas and January, planning can help prevent holiday problems and help you make the most of your festive time away.
“You should make sure you have medication with you and continue to follow the personal written asthma action developed with your doctor,” Kristine Whorlow advised.
The National Asthma Council Australia has the following tips to help you stay healthy over Christmas and the summer holidays and keep asthma symptoms away:
- Christmas trees: Whilst natural Christmas trees may harbour pollen, artificial trees and wreaths can accumulate dust and mould in storage – all three can trigger asthma in susceptible people. Clean them before you start putting them up.
- Decorations: Ideally, unpack last year’s decorations outdoors and clean before use. Soft decorations, such as Christmas-themed soft toys or felt stockings, should be put in the freezer overnight before use to kill dust mites.
- Outdoor parties: A summer BBQ in the park or Christmas Day under the Aussie sun can trigger asthma and hay fever for some people, especially with high levels of pollen in the air. Take special care on windy, hot and thunderstorm days.
- Scented candles: Strong perfumes in scented candles may trigger symptoms. If you are gifting a candle, check beforehand if a scent will trigger asthma symptoms.
- Emotions: ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it can also be the season for added pressures and stress which can trigger asthma, as can other intense emotions such as yelling, crying and laughing. If you know this will be a stressful time for you, speak to your doctor about strategies to help you manage.
Travelling over Christmas and summer holidays
- Visit your doctor in advance of your departure: This will help ensure your asthma is under good control when you leave. Tell your doctor your destination in case any precautions are needed.
- Stock up on asthma medicines: Where possible, take with you all the medication you will require, as well as some extra. Keep the medicines in their original packaging with the prescribing label attached, and leave spare inhalers at home just in case you come back without them.
- Carry your reliever with you: Keep your reliever inhaler handy so you can get to it quickly in an emergency. If you are flying, remember to pack it in your hand luggage, not in a checked suitcase.
- Take your personalised written asthma action plan: Alert your friends and family to your asthma triggers – if you are visiting relatives with dusty homes, open fires or pets and these are triggers for your asthma, let people know in advance of your visit.
- Give holiday homes a thorough clean: Stored bed linen and blankets can become musty or dusty –give them a thorough airing before making up the bed.
- Be prepared for an emergency: Find out where you can get medical help and keep the details with you, along with contact details your GP at home, in case of an emergency.
- Check your medical insurance: Check that it specifically covers your asthma (contact your travel agent for advice).
For information on pollen counts, visit pollenforecast.com.au. For more information on asthma and allergies, visit the National Asthma Council Australia website: nationalasthma.org.au
For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
The Reputation Group
Phone: 03 9645 7755
Mobile: 0417 362 768