Thoughts of the summer months usually fill people with bliss but this is not the case for the 3,062 Leitrim asthmatics who also suffer from hayfever. Instead, their summer is spent bracing themselves for irritating hayfever symptoms which often cause their asthma to flare-up and can even escalate into serious asthma attacks.
The Asthma Society of Ireland has once again teamed up with Dyson Ireland & GSK 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, making it a daily must-see to manage hayfever and asthma throughout the summer.
What is Hayfever?
When you have an allergy, your body reacts when you come in contact with a particular allergen or trigger. For people with hayfever or rhinitis, when they breathe in these allergens, their body has an immune response in the lining of the nose. This causes the nasal passages to become swollen and inflamed.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: “Hayfever is very misunderstood in Ireland and people often dismiss you as a hypochondriac or simply a complainer when you mention it. As a hayfever sufferer, I can testify that it is a very debilitating condition that leaves you feeling really miserable and unwell. The constant runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing are extremely distracting as the 6,394 hayfever sufferers in Leitrim well know, and the accompanying headache and fatigue have always really marked out the summer months for me. For me, it felt like a flu all summer long. Hayfever makes it difficult for people to focus, not to mention making people self-conscious when in work or in company.
"Our Pollen Tracker allows you to identify days when the pollen count will be high in your area, equipping you with up-to-date and essential information. The Pollen Tracker and hayfever management materials on our site can put you in the driving seat to offset the annoying symptoms of hayfever and any potentially serious asthma attacks."
Common hayfever symptoms:
• Runny nose and nasal congestion
• Watery, itchy, red eyes
• Frequent sneezing
• Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
• 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 along a 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 an allergic reaction is triggered. 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.”
Help and support on managing your asthma and hayfever is available by calling the free nurse Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64.
Tips to Survive Hayfever Season:
• Talk to doctor or pharmacist NOW about taking medication to prevent / reduce symptoms. Don't wait until you feel unwell.
• Keep an eye daily on our pollen tracker on asthma.ie
• Keep windows closed 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 who 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
For asthmatics, hayfever can cause their asthma symptoms to flare up and may cause an asthma attack. An asthma attack is a medical emergency and can be fatal. One person dies a week in Ireland as a result of their asthma.
Know the symptoms of an attack and know the 5 Step Rule to save a life - go to asthma.ie for more information on how to prevent and manage asthma attacks. The Asthma Society strongly recommends that asthmatics visit a health care professional if they have an asthma attack, as this indicates that their asthma is not controlled.
Win a Dyson Pure Cool
In May, June, July and August you can win a Dyson Pure Cool by taking part in The Asthma Society of Ireland's simple competition.
1. Go to The Asthma Society of Ireland Facebook or Twitter pages
2. Find posts detailing the pollen forecast
3. Like and share these posts at least once a month to win!
One winner will be chosen at the end of each month. The lucky winner will receive a Dyson Pure Cool which removes 99.95% of allergens and pollutants from the air. For more information, go to dyson.ie.