Asthma and hay fever sufferers urged to take extra care as pollen levels soar

·3-min read
Stock image  (PA Archive)
Stock image (PA Archive)

With pollen levels set to soar this weekend, a charity is urging those with lung conditions and at risk of attacks and flare-ups to take extra precautions.

High pollen levels are predicted across every area of England and Wales on Friday and Saturday, with medium pollen counts in Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland, according to the Met Office.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said the recent extended spell of dry weather and relatively light winds had been “conducive to high pollen levels” and that this was “likely to continue into next week”, particularly in the south, meaning pollen would continue to linger.

This has prompted the charity Asthma and Lung UK to warn that more than three million people with lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are at risk of attacks or flare-ups this weekend.

People are being urged to take extra care including using their prevent inhaler if they have got one, and carrying their releiver inhaler with them at all times, as well as staying indoors on high-pollen days and keeping an eye on the weather forecasts to check pollen levels.

High pollen levels could cause symptoms such as a tight chest, wheezing and breathleness in 59 per cent of people with asthma and 7 per cent with COPD, who find hay fever triggers their condition, research from the charity found.

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead for Asthma and Lung UK and a practicing GP, said: “When pollen levels are at their highest this can be deadly for those with lung conditions like asthma who can suffer serious symptoms and have life-threatening attacks.

“These attacks can leave people fighting for breath, which can be terrifying, but there are things they can do to look after themselves.

“Using your preventer inhalers as prescribed is important as the medicine reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, helping to prevent symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they even start.

“We also advise people to carry their reliever inhalers every day, especially when they are out and about enjoying the sunshine in case pollen does cause a flare up of their symptoms. Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.

“The third thing people can do is to use a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy antihistamine tablets to help stop the allergic reaction. People should also check pollen and air pollution forecasts in their local area, so they can avoid going outdoors as much as possible on high pollen days.”

Meanwhile a parent whose child has bad asthma attacks triggered by high pollen counts is warning people to be aware of the risks.

Mum-of-two Katrina Clark, 34, from Surrey, said it is “terrifying” watching her four-year-old son Freddie struggle to breathe when pollen levels are high.

Katrina Clark says she is worried for her son’s safety when pollen counts are high (Asthma and Lung UK)
Katrina Clark says she is worried for her son’s safety when pollen counts are high (Asthma and Lung UK)

Freddie’s asthma can be triggered by hay fever, leaving him “wheezing and gasping for breath”, Ms Clark said.

“It’s terrifying seeing your child going through an asthma attack and when it’s triggered by something that’s floating around in the environment, going anywhere becomes risky.

“I live in fear that Freddie will end up in hospital or on steroids after a bad asthma attack and am terrified he won’t recover when hay fever season strikes.”

She added: “I want to warn anyone else with a lung condition triggered by pollen to make sure you are taking your preventer inhaler and following medical advice to stay well. It could save your life.”

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