People with asthma warned about Christmas triggers

Stick to asthma routine - Asthma Society
  • Deborah Condon

People with asthma are being reminded to be aware of their asthma triggers this festive season.

Some 380,000 people in Ireland have asthma, however according to the Asthma Society of Ireland, this time of year can be "extremely dangerous" for those affected.

Currently in Ireland, one person dies every six days due to their asthma, yet 90% of these deaths are preventable.

"During the festive season, people don't take their asthma as seriously as they would throughout the rest of the year. It is so important that people with asthma plan ahead for the holiday season, ensuring that they or their child have enough medication to last the Christmas, as pharmacies will be closed.

"It is also essential that they stick to their asthma routine and remember to take their asthma medication daily. Asthma triggers also need to be taken seriously during the holidays and avoided where necessary," explained the society's CEO, Sarah O'Connor.

Common asthma triggers during Christmas include:

-Artificial Christmas trees and decorations gather mould and dust when they are in storage during the year. Damp dust the tree/decorations when they are removed from storage to remove dust and mould. Also, damp dust your tree/decorations before storing them to remove any mould and dust that may have landed on them over Christmas, and wrap them in plastic before storage
-Real Christmas trees or any festive greenery such as holly and mistletoe contain mould, which thrives in a warm environment. Bringing the tree into your home means the mould will grow and the spores can trigger asthma. Hose down the tree before you bring it into your home. Keep it in the coolest part of the house and remove it if you notice it triggering your asthma symptoms
-Open fires emit smoke and fumes which can be a big trigger for many people with asthma. Avoid being in a room with an open fire where possible, if you know it triggers your asthma and only burn smokeless fuel. Ensure your chimney has been cleaned to allow fumes to flow through easily
-Scented candles often gifted at Christmas, can be a big trigger for people with asthma. Use non-scented candles or LED candles instead
-Food, which is often consumed in larger than normal amounts over the holiday period, often contains ingredients that people with asthma are allergic to. Know your allergies and let family/friends know in advance if you are going to their house about your food allergies, so they can prepare alternative food for you if needs be
-Alcohol contains histamines and sulphites, which trigger asthma in many people. Avoid drinking a certain alcohol if it triggers your asthma and bring your own drink when attending parties so you know exactly what is in it
-Weather changes can have a huge effect on people with asthma, especially the cold weather during winter. Breathe through a scarf when outdoors to help filter the cold air and try to exercise indoors instead of outside to avoid the cold air.
-Stress can be common at this time of year and is a huge trigger for people with asthma. Try to remain calm and enjoy this time of the year. If you are unable to get your stress under control, speak to someone - family, friends or a professional. Some people find that meditation and yoga help
-Colds and flu are very prevalent at this time of the year and can be particularly dangerous for people with asthma. Try to avoid contracting and spreading the cold/flu and if you have not already done so, get the flu vaccine.

If anyone needs advice on managing their asthma triggers, the Asthma Society runs a free Asthma Adviceline. Callers can speak to a respiratory nurse who can help them to manage their asthma triggers and all other aspects of asthma management.

Please note, the Asthma Adviceline will be closed from December 22 until January 2. If you would like to speak to a nurse before Christmas, please call 1800 44 54 64 as soon as possible.

For more information on the Asthma Society of Ireland, click here.


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