Patient Alert - Asthma and Lung UK warning as pollen levels rise

Pollen levels are known to be rising and as such the Practice is keen to ensure our patients who suffer with hay fever and/or asthma are aware of peak pollen times and the importance of carrying their inhaler.

While some hay fever meds are in short supply, there are concerns that the upcoming dry warm weather could prove problematic.

With rising grass pollen levels - the most common hay fever trigger - on the increase between May and July and the forecast for the next few days warming we are raising the profile of advice from Asthma and Lung UK to take extra care.

Streaming, itchy eyes, sneezing, tiredness, a blocked nose and sometimes wheezing or breathing difficulties can all be symptoms of an allergic reaction to pollen as the body mounts a reaction to the foreign invader and releases a chemical called histamine.

Dr Chris Olukanni, GP Partner encourages patients with asthma to be actively aware and says: "When pollen levels are at their highest, those people with lung conditions like asthma can suffer serious symptoms and there is increased risk of a life-threatening attack which can leave people fighting for breath. This can be terrifying, but there are key things all those who suffer can do to look after themselves."

Using preventer inhalers as prescribed will help prevent symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they start and 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 symptoms. Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.

Other helpful recommendations from Asthma and Lung UK, includes a suggestion to use a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy antihistamine tablets to stop the allergic reaction.

Many sufferers claim rubbing Vaseline around your nostrils or across your cheek bones is the ultimate hack for hay fever. Designed to be the ultimate pollen catcher, dabbing it on your face can help create a balm barrier which traps the pollen before it's able to enter your system through the eyes or nose.

The method is also a popular one with parents trying to treat pollen allergies in children too young to take many medicines.

Reduce the risk of hay fever triggering an asthma attack 

  • Carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every day. You might also refer to this as your rescue inhaler. These quickly relax the muscles in your airways and ease your asthma or COPD symptoms on the spot, so it’s important to carry your reliever inhaler with you. 
  • Take any preventer or maintenance treatments every day, as prescribed. This will help prevent your lungs from reacting to pollen. In asthma, this is even more crucial, as asthma preventer inhalers contain a low dose of steroid, which dampens down the inflammation that can be set off by pollen and other triggers.
  • Treat hay fever symptoms with antihistamine pills and sprays or a steroid nasal spray. There are lots of different medicine options for hay fever. Your pharmacist can help you decide what to try.  

When to see your GP 

If you have hay fever, it’s likely that it’s triggering your asthma or lung condition symptoms if you: 

  • feel wheezy
  • feel breathless
  • have a tight feeling in your chest
  • are coughing more than usual
  • have asthma and are needing to use your reliever inhaler (usually blue) three times a week or more

The Partners and Practice team urge you to make contact if symptoms worsen or where breathing is affected do contact 111 and seek urgent medical assistance.  

Published: May 13, 2022