The risk of getting asthma symptoms increases over Christmas and the summer holidays warn experts at the National Asthma Council Australia.
There are not only many hidden asthma and allergy triggers to contend with from Christmas trees to dusty holiday homes but sudden changes in weather and increased pollen in the air present additional risks for the two million plus Australians with asthma.
National Asthma Council Australia CEO, Siobhan Brophy, urged people with asthma and allergies, especially families with children, to stay safe this Christmas and New Year.
“An asthma or allergy flare-up can seriously spoil festive fun and relaxation. Taking simple precautions, such as checking the weather forecast and stocking up on the kids’ asthma medicines, will help you and your family make the most of your summer holiday time together.
“You will have significantly fewer problems with asthma and allergies if you are well prepared and your Christmas and holiday surroundings are clean and free from dust and mould,” explained Ms Brophy.
“Very importantly, given our changing weather patterns, it’s important to monitor AusPollen’s pollen forecast and look out for warnings of bushfire smoke.”
With more Australians travelling over Christmas and January, planning can help prevent problems when away from home.
“Make sure you have medication with you and continue to follow the personal written asthma action developed with your doctor,” Siobhan Brophy advised. “It also can be very easy to get out of your routine and to forget to take preventer medicines whilst on holiday.”
The National Asthma Council Australia’s top tips to help you stay well and symptom free over Christmas and the summer holidays are:
- Christmas trees: Natural Christmas trees may harbour pollen, but artificial trees and wreaths can accumulate dust and mould in storage and trigger asthma – clean them, including a good shake outdoors, before putting them up inside.
- Decorations: Clean last year’s dusty decorations outdoors before using them. Soft decorations, such as Christmas-themed soft toys or felt stockings, should be put in the freezer overnight before use to kill dust mites.
- Outdoor parties: A summer BBQ in the park or Christmas Day under the Aussie sun can trigger asthma and hay fever for some people, especially with high levels of pollen in the air. Take special care on windy, hot and thunderstorm days and stay inside with the windows closed.
- Scented candles: Strong perfumes in scented candles may trigger symptoms. If you are giving a candle as a present, check beforehand if scents can trigger asthma or allergies in the recipient.
- Emotions: If stress is a trigger for your asthma, plan ahead to take time out to relax over Christmas and avoid added pressures and highly emotional situations.
Travelling over Christmas and summer holidays
- Visit your doctor before your departure: This will help ensure your asthma is under good control when you leave. Tell your doctor your destination in case any precautions are needed.
- Stock up on asthma medicines: Where possible, take with you all the medication you will require, as well as some extra. Keep the medicines in their original packaging with the prescribing label attached, and leave spare inhalers at home just in case you come back without them.
- Carry your reliever with you: Keep your reliever inhaler handy so you can get to it quickly in an emergency. If you are flying, remember to pack it in your hand luggage, not in a checked suitcase.
- Take your personalised written asthma action plan: Alert your friends and family to your asthma triggers. If you are visiting relatives with dusty homes, open fires or pets, and these are triggers for your asthma, let people know in advance of your visit.
- Give holiday homes a thorough clean: Stored bed linen and blankets can become musty or dusty – give them a thorough airing before making up the beds.
- Be prepared for an emergency: Find out where you can get medical help and keep the details with you, along with the contact details your GP at home, in case of an emergency.
- Check your medical insurance: Check that it specifically covers your asthma (see our factsheet).