Asthma Society issue advice for 376,000 people with both hayfever and asthma and those attending Bloom 2019

31 May 2019

376,000 people who have both hayfever and asthma are advised to manage hayfever symptoms this summer to avoid potentially fatal asthma attack

The Asthma Society of Ireland is today advising the 376,000 people who have both asthma and hayfever in Ireland to take precautions this summer to ensure they do not suffer a serious or fatal asthma attack, or an escalation of their asthma symptoms. This advice comes ahead of Bloom 2019 which takes place in the Phoenix Park from May 30 to June 3.

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: For the 376,000 people who have asthma and hayfever, hayfever can be particularly dangerous. Hayfever symptoms are capable of escalating an asthma attack, which in some case can be fatal. Asthma deaths are rising in Ireland with one person now dying every five days as a result of their asthma. In addition, people with hayfever experience symptoms which really compromise their quality of life and ability to enjoy summer months and all that the natural world and gardening can offer them.”

“Ahead of Bloom 2019, our advice for anyone who is interested in creating an asthma and allergy friendly garden is to do your research into what plants/flowers will trigger your hayfever and asthma. Our Gardening with Asthma and Hayfever booklet, which can be downloaded for free from asthma.ie, is a great resource in helping people create an allergy friendly garden. If people with asthma or hayfever call 1800 45 54 64, they can arrange to have a hard copy posted to them and can avail of a FREE consultation about managing their hayfever symptoms with one of our specialist nurses.”

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

Niamh O‘Halloran who suffered a near fatal asthma attack because of her hayfever, said:Most of my friends with hayfever experience the itchy runny eyes, runny nose and itchy throat, etc. But for me, as I have asthma and hayfever, symptoms can be a lot more serious. It is essential that I manage my hayfever to ensure it does not lead to a serious asthma attack. In my teenage years, I suffered an asthma attack because of my hayfever 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 hayfever 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.

Tips to survive Hayfever Season:

  • Keep an eye daily on our pollen tracker on asthma.ie
  • Speak to a nurse on the Asthma Society’s free Joint Asthma and COPD Adviceline (1800 44 54 64) about putting a hayfever management plan in place
  • Talk to doctor or pharmacist NOW about taking medication to prevent / reduce 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 hayfever symptoms:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen blue coloured skin under the eyes
  • Postnasal drip

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 hayfever 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 hayfever season to limit its effects."

For any questions on managing you 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 hayfever symptoms in control.