National Asthma Week launches today as a timely reminder that for the one in 10 Australians with asthma and three in four who also have hay fever it not only means sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes but an increased risk of asthma flare-ups.
This week the National Asthma Council is urging anyone with asthma and hay fever to talk to their GP or pharmacist about how they can keep safe during Spring and thunderstorm asthma season, which occurs from October to December in south-eastern Australia.
National Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy says that while most people know pollen, dust mites and pet dander can trigger hay fever, they may not be aware it can also cause asthma symptoms and serious flare-ups.
‘People who are allergic to grass pollens, particularly ryegrass, can have asthma flare-ups caused by springtime thunderstorms, especially if their asthma is not well controlled or they’re not taking regular preventer medication for their asthma.
‘If you have allergies and you’re wheezing or coughing, it’s really important to visit your GP so you can work together on a treatment plan to help manage your allergies and asthma and make sure you know what to do during a Spring thunderstorm or asthma emergency,’ she says.
Preventive steps for people at risk include following their doctor’s advice for using a hay fever nasal spray, asthma preventer, or both, particularly from the last weekend in September until New Year’s Day.
After visiting a GP or pharmacist to talk about asthma and hay fever control, there are also some simple steps people can take to reduce their triggers during Spring:
• Check the pollen forecast and be extra careful on high pollen days
• Use your preventer medications as prescribed and keep your asthma reliever with you
• Don’t mow grass yourself and stay inside when it is being mown. If you must mow, wear a mask or consider taking a non-drowsy antihistamine if your GP says to.
• Consider planting low-allergen plants in your garden that are pollinated by birds or insects.
On high pollen days, extra steps may include:
• Try to avoid going outdoors, especially on windy days or after thunderstorms.
• Keep windows closed when in your car and consider using recirculating air conditioning.
• Keep windows closed at home and consider using an air purifier.
• Don’t dry washing on an outside clothesline as pollen in the air can end up on clothes.
For easy-to-follow information on how to manage your hay fever and asthma and prepare yourself for thunderstorm asthma season explore the National Asthma Council’s website.
For further information or an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
Lelde McCoy, The Reputation Group