17 September 2020
The National Asthma Council Australia is urging Australians with asthma and those prone to hay fever (allergic rhinitis) to visit their GP or pharmacist now for a check-up to prepare for the peak spring and thunderstorm asthma season.
Late September to December is when the amount of rye grass pollen and other allergic material such as fungi or dust in the air can significantly increase right across South-Eastern Australia.
Dr Lyn Roberts, National Asthma Council Strategic Advisor, said this can be a significant problem as three in four people with asthma also have hay fever.
“The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wet end to 2020 for eastern half of Australia with wetter than average conditions from mid-September until the end of October that could result in above average grass growth.
“Hay fever can be caused by triggers such as pollens from grasses, trees or weeds or animal dander which is very tiny particles of skin that had been shed from animals with fur or feathers.
“It can cause upper and lower airway inflammation and result in itchy watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, cough, sinus pain and congestion and frequent sore throats.
“But more concerning is that hay fever can lead to an increased risk of serious asthma flare-ups for the 2.78 million Australians with asthma,” she said.
“People who are allergic to grass pollens, particularly ryegrass, can have asthma flare-ups caused by springtime thunderstorms, especially if their asthma is not well controlled or they’re not taking regular preventer medication for their asthma.
“Now is a great time to check in with your GP to discuss your asthma treatment, review your Asthma Action Plan, check you are using your inhalers properly and make sure you know what to do during a Spring thunderstorm or asthma emergency,’ she said.
Preventive steps for people at risk include following their doctor’s advice for using a hay fever nasal spray, asthma preventer, or both, particularly from mid-September until New Year’s Day.
After visiting a GP or pharmacist to talk about asthma and hay fever control, there are also some simple steps people can take to reduce their triggers during Spring:
- Check the pollen forecast and be extra careful on high pollen days (available from 1 Oct) – sensitivechoice.com
- If you have few asthma symptoms and are not already using a preventer, talk to your GP about whether you should start any treatment at least two weeks before the pollen season
- Use your preventer medications as prescribed and keep your asthma reliever with you
- Don’t mow grass yourself and stay inside when it is being mown. If you must mow, wear a mask or consider taking a non-drowsy antihistamine if your GP says to.
- Consider planting low-allergen plants in your garden that are pollinated by birds or insects.
On high pollen days, extra steps may include:
- Check your inhaler technique
- Try to avoid going outdoors, especially on windy days or after thunderstorms.
- Keep windows closed when in your car and consider using recirculating air conditioning.
- Keep windows closed at home and consider using an air purifier.
- Don’t dry washing on an outside clothesline as pollen in the air can end up on clothes.
For easy-to-follow information on how to manage your hay fever and asthma and prepare yourself for thunderstorm asthma season explore the National Asthma Council’s website.
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For further information or an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
Donna Le Page, Le Page PR
Mobile: 0429 825 703