SPRING is sprung: which means pollen - and, unfortunately, asthma or hay fever.
With eight in 10 people with asthma prone to hay fever, it can be a miserable time for many.
Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said asthma hospitalisation rates peak in September, so she urges anyone with asthma to get on the offense to manage their symptoms.
Things to look out for include:
- Itchy, runny or blocked nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Always feeling like you have a head cold
- Blocked nose
- Throat clearing or coughing to clear the throat
- Mouth breathing
- Shortness of breath
Asthma is closely linked with hay fever or allergic rhinitis, so treating hay fever is an important part of achieving well-controlled asthma.
"Fortunately, there is plenty people can do to manage their asthma and hay fever this spring," Ms Goldman said.
Most important, she said, is preventer and maintenance medicine.
Asthma preventer medicines and even some hay fever nasal sprays take up to three weeks before they are effective at reducing sensitivity to triggers like pollen.
If pollen is a problem for you, pollen tracking services provide daily local pollen information via websites and apps that can help you get prepared.
For people in Tasmania and the ACT there is AirRater, while those in Brisbane, Melbourne and other parts of Victoria, Sydney and Canberra can use AusPollen. All you need to do is select your local pollen station and scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.
AusPollen will launch a site in Adelaide from October, when pollen counts officially begin.
Unfortunately, one of the best defences against pollen for people with asthma and hay fever is to avoid exposure by staying indoors and keeping windows and doors closed.
At home it might be helpful to use a recycled air-conditioner; if you're in a car, close the windows and use the recycled function on the air-conditioning.
It's also a good idea to avoid hanging out washing on high pollen days, instead opting for a dryer or indoor washing line. It could also be a good idea to wash on a different day as pollen particles can stick to clothing.
Find out more about asthma and Asthma Australia HERE
You can speak directly with a trained Asthma Australia educator on 1800-278-462.
Not sure if it's hay fever or something more serious?
Healthdirect Australia, a health information service owned by the governments of Australia, has a handy symptom checker that also provides advice and information about what to do next.
Its advice to help avoid triggering hay fever symptoms include:
- CHANGE your clothes and take a shower after being outdoors to remove any pollen on your body.
- WEAR wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes when outdoors. Rinse your eyes when you get home.
- KEEP pets out of the house when your symptoms flare up. If your pet does come inside, wash them regularly to remove any allergens from their fur.
- DON'T smoke or let other people smoke in your house as smoking and breathing in other people's smoke will irritate the lining of your nose, eyes, throat and airways.
- TRY not to go outside after noon, especially when the pollen count is high, it's windy or after thunderstorms.
More at Healthdirect Australia or call the 24-hour advice line on 1800-022-022.