Seven springtime tips for people with asthma

Fresh breezes, sunny spells, April showers and springtime blossom can be a problematic time of year for people with asthma.

Sudden changes in the weather can make asthmatic symptoms worse but NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has seven tips that help lessen the symptoms and reduce the risk of attacks.

Dr Ken Wrixon, the CCG’s respiratory lead, is reminding people with asthma to make sure they have enough of any prescribed steroids, reliever and preventer inhalers, as well as cough and cold remedies.

Colds and flu can make their asthma symptoms worse which can increase the risk of an asthma attack.

People with asthma and those caring for them are advised to:

  1. Check you have a reasonable stock of all prescribed asthma medications. This does not mean stockpiling your prescription items but you should have a spare preventer and reliever inhalers and enough steroid medications if you take these. Avoid running out so that you are prepared in the event of an attack and to help control your symptoms longer term. And if you don’t have to use your inhalers very often don’t forget to check that they are in date.

  2. Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with over the counter medication. Cough and cold remedies should always be at hand as colds and flu can have a severe impact on asthmatics. Be sure to avoid any medications that might not be suitable for people with the condition. Ask your local pharmacist for advice.

  3. Keep warm. The weather might be brighter and warmer than previous months, but it can still be chilly so make sure you wrap up when outside. A snood, gaiter or a cosy scarf is still a must-have accessory in springtime.

  4. Exercise indoors if it’s particularly cold or if pollen levels are high. Regular exercise keeps us all healthy and can reduce asthma symptoms, but it’s best to avoid exercising outdoors in very cold weather and when pollen levels are high, especially if these are triggers for your asthma.

  5. Check your filters. Heating systems and car air filters help keep the air you breathe cleaner and reduce dust in the atmosphere. These should be changed regularly to avoid them becoming clogged and ineffective.

  6. Keep dust at bay. Regular cleaning and dusting at home will keep dust levels low and avoid the particles entering your lungs and causing inflammation which can lead to asthma attacks. Bed sheets and duvet covers are also prone to dust and mites, so it’s a good idea to wash these in a hot wash once a week. You might need someone to help you with cleaning, if dust is a trigger for your asthma.

  7. Have an asthma action plan/review your plan. You can download asthma action plans for adults and children at www.asthma.org.uk and fill these in with your GP or asthma nurse. An action plan will help you to monitor and stay on top of your symptoms and know when to seek help for your condition. You should review your plan with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year.

Dr Wrixon, from the Deal Tree Surgery in Doddinghurst, said: ‘’Although the worst of the cold weather is hopefully behind us, springtime can be particularly problematic for asthmatics as changes in the weather and a sudden increase of pollen in the air can make life difficult. It’s important to try to manage your symptoms as much as possible to avoid an asthma attack and taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor is important in aiding people with asthma to do this.’’

For more advice see NHS Choices

Date: 4 April 2017

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