On Monday the 14th of January, the Asthma Society of Ireland and COPD Support Ireland, in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, will launch the Stay Well This Winter… Live Every Breath awareness campaign. For those living with a respiratory illness, cold and damp weather can severely worsen symptoms, making breathing difficult and outdoor tasks daunting.1 This patient-led awareness campaign follows two people living with respiratory conditions, Cróna Tansey and Nicky Coules, through digital stories, as they share practical advice on how they live well during the prolonged winter season.
The Stay Well This Winter…Live Every Breath campaign aims to support patients living with asthma and COPD to manage their respiratory illness during winter. This is particularly important given the extended nature of the season in Ireland. The message for those living with a respiratory illness is simple – continue to take proactive steps, like those listed below, in the coming months to ensure you are as well and as active as possible.
Cróna and Nicky have shared their own winter wellness tips as part of this campaign. The aim of the videos and winter wellness tips is to inspire and support others with respiratory conditions to make the most of every season by looking after themselves as much as possible:
- Get the flu vaccination. The flu is a very serious, highly contagious, disease, especially for those living with a lung condition. Reduce your risk of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated today.2
- Reduce your risk of contracting illness. Kindly remind friends and family that even a cold can make your symptoms worse.3 Ask them to wait until they are feeling better before visiting.
- Wash your hands regularly. Try to avoid coming into contact with harmful bacteria by washing hands, or using hand sanitiser, regularly.4
- Keep the house warm. It’s important to stay warm during the winter months but make sure your home is well ventilated. 5 If wind and rain triggers your respiratory condition, keep windows closed on particularly bad days.1
- Exercise indoors. Cold and damp air can irritate the airwaves, especially for those living with a respiratory condition such as asthma and COPD.1 Exercising indoors is a great way of improving lung function while also staying warm.6
- Check the weather forecast. Try to avoid trips outside during particularly cold, wet, and windy weather, which might make breathing more difficult.
- Wrap up well. If you do plan to go outside during cold weather, wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth. This will both heat and humidify the air, making breathing easier.6
- Breathe in through your nose. Try to breathe in through your nose, instead of your mouth, this will help to heat the air before it reaches your lungs.1
- Carry a reliever inhaler with you. Take your prescribed daily medication and have your reliever inhaler with you at all times in case you need it. 7
- Agree a self-management plan with a healthcare professional. Self-management of symptoms is important, but it’s also important to know who to call and what to do if you are experiencing an attack of symptoms. Agree a self- management plan with your healthcare professional if you don’t already have one in place.
Explaining why it’s important for patients to be vigilant in the coming months, Dr Dermot Nolan, General Practitioner, said: “We are now experiencing extremely cold, damp and windy weather from autumn through to spring. So even though spring is technically around the corner, we need to stay vigilant. For those living with a respiratory condition, this extended cold weather can exacerbate their symptoms, put their lives on hold, limiting what they can do. Being prepared for cold weather by knowing how to self-manage symptoms and being really proactive on a day-to-day basis can make a huge difference to the quality of life for those living with illnesses like COPD and asthma.”
Speaking about the importance of understanding asthma, patient ambassador, Cróna Tansey, said: “I have had asthma since childhood but it is only in recent years that I have realised how serious and unpredictable asthma can be when it is not under control. For many years, I downplayed my asthma and I wasn't dedicated to taking my medication. Uncontrolled asthma can prevent people from doing the things that they love. I got my asthma under control by working with my doctor, becoming aware of what triggers my asthma and being consistent with my inhaler routine. I always carry my reliever inhaler with me. With my asthma under control, I have the confidence to live my life to the full!"
Patient ambassador, Nicky Coules, says for him, support from others started him on a path of self-care: “When I was first diagnosed with COPD I indulged the condition. I stopped taking care of myself, I put on weight, I stopped exercising – I let it win. Last year was a turning point, I joined the Tallaght branch of COPD Support Ireland. We meet every week to exercise in a structured, supportive way, and meet others on the same journey. The thing about COPD is that your body is telling you not to exercise, but you need to press on and push through that, a little bit at a time. You have to help yourself live well, and self-care is critical to that.”
You can contact the Asthma Society of Ireland’s Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 and COPD Support Ireland’s Adviceline on 1800 83 21 46 to speak to a specialist respiratory nurse.
Disease awareness information brought to you by GSK with support from the Asthma Society of Ireland and COPD Support Ireland. This does not constitute personal medical advice. Please speak to your GP, nurse or pharmacist to discuss the management of respiratory illness.
This campaign is funded by GSK with support from the Asthma Society of Ireland and COPD Support Ireland.
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1 Weather Changes and Asthma, www.asthma.ie/about-asthma/learn-about-asthma/asthma-triggers/weather-changes-and-asthma (last accessed January 8 2019)
2 What is flu?, Flu Vaccination, www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/flu-vaccination/about-the-flu/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
3 Know your COPD, Living with COPD, http://copd.ie/living-with-copd/know-your-copd/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
4 Hand hygiene, Health Care Associated Infections
https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/our-priority-programmes/hcai/hand-hygiene-in-irish-healthcare-settings/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
5 Asthma in the Home, www.asthma.ie/about-asthma/living-well-with-asthma/lifestyle/asthma-home (last accessed January 10 2019)
6 “12 Days of Asthma” will help you avoid your asthma triggers this Christmas -The Asthma Society, https://www.asthma.ie/news/%E2%80%9C12-days-asthma%E2%80%9D-will-help-you-avoid-your-asthma-triggers-christmas-asthma-society (last accessed January 8 2019)
7 Cold Weather Top Tips, https://www.asthma.ie/news/cold-weather-top-tips (last accessed January 8 2019)
About Asthma Society of Ireland
The Asthma Society of Ireland (ASI) is the national charity dedicated to empowering Ireland's 470,000 people with asthma to take control of their asthma by providing them and their families with information, awareness, services and support. We are focused on representing people with asthma and working to improve their health outcomes. The Asthma Society launched its new Asthma Action plan in December 2018.
About COPD Support Ireland
COPD Support Ireland is a charity set up to support all those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We are Ireland’s only national COPD support and advocacy body, bringing together local support groups from around the country, to help those living with, and caring for someone with, COPD. We were founded in 2013 by patients working with the support of the Irish Thoracic Society, COPD National Clinical Programme, and health care professionals.
About GSK in Ireland:
GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, employs 1,700 people across four locations in Ireland – Dungarvan, Cork, Sligo and Dublin. GSK is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK is challenging the status quo of how a healthcare company can contribute to global health through improving access and innovation through both what and how we operate.
GSK in Dungarvan which produces a variety of ‘over-the-counter’ pharmacy and oral care products is the global home of Panadol: Around 6.5 billion Panadol tablets are produced in Dungarvan each year – that’s 200 Panadol tablets a second - exporting to over 70 countries worldwide.
Our Cork site produces the active ingredients for a range of medicines for diseases such as childhood cancer, depression, diabetes, HIV and Parkinson’s disease, while our Sligo facility is dedicated to skincare producing around 30 million skin medicines and products every year including Oilatum and Physiogel exporting to over 65 countries.
Our Dublin headquarters are home to our Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Healthcare businesses. Our Pharma business is a leader in respiratory medicines and the largest provider of vaccines to the HSE in Ireland while the consumer healthcare business is one of the leaders in both the pain and oral care markets owning famous brands such as Panadol, Voltorol, Sensodyne and Corsodyl.
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