Experts have warned that millions of asthmatics are susceptible to potentially fatal flare-ups over the weekend.
In many areas of the UK, pollen concentrations are high and will continue to rise as temperatures soar above 30C.
According to Asthma + Lung UK, the warm weather can cause asthmatics and people who have breathing problems to experience life-threatening symptoms.
The symptoms could range from mild wheezing, coughing and breathlessness to hospitalisation, even fatal attacks.
Emma Rubach is the head of health advise at this charity. She said that high pollen levels are dangerous to people who suffer from asthma and can cause serious symptoms such as wheezing or breathlessness.
They can trigger asthma attacks that can be frightening, forcing them to fight for breath.
Asthma attacks can kill. In the UK, four people die each day as a result of asthma.
For those who have chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), they may feel more breathless and produce more or sticky phlegm. This could lead to hospitalization.
If you suffer from asthma, it is important to stay inside as much as possible. Use your preventer inhaler according to the instructions and carry a reliever.
The antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays can stop the allergic reaction caused by pollen, and also prevent airways that are already very sensitive from getting more inflamed.
Emma warned people that they should be alert for signs of hay fever, which could affect their lungs.
She said that shortness of breathe, a tightened chest and coughing or wheezing are all symptoms.
They can protect themselves by taking simple measures.
“If symptoms are getting much worse however, we’d advise booking an urgent appointment to see their GP or medical professional.”
A quarter of those with COPD and almost half with asthma are allergic to pollen.
The airways in the lungs are swollen and narrowed.
The muscles surrounding their airways can become even tighter if the person is also allergic to dust and pollen.
It can become inflamed and swollen, causing a mucus buildup and resulting in the patient struggling to breath.
Hay fever symptoms include:
The HAY Fever is a very common allergy. One in five people may experience this condition at some time in their lifetime.
Hay fever is a reaction caused by an allergy to pollen.
Hay fever is characterized by:
- Frequent sneezing
- Runny nose or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
- An itchy throat and mouth.
- Postnasal Drip (mucus running down your throat)
Other symptoms include:
- Loss of sense of smell
- Face pain caused by sinus blockage
- Fatigue and tiredness
If you have asthma, your asthma symptoms may get worse when you have hay fever.
Over 1.3 million UK residents have COPD, a term that covers a range of lung diseases which can make breathing difficult.
Pollen is responsible for triggering lung diseases in over 38% of people.
Met Office issued a warning today about “high” levels of pollen in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North West. It also warned that this level will continue to be high into early next week.
The levels of pollutants in Scotland are classified as “high” for Dumfries and Galloway, Lothian Borders, Highlands and Eilean Siar and Northern Ireland.
The most common cause of hayfever is grass pollen. It affects around 95% of those with an allergic reaction.
Between mid-May to July, the levels of smog are at their highest.
When grass pollen counts are high, asthmatics need to seek hospital treatment more often.
Some evidence also suggests that high grass pollen levels are linked to an increased number of COPD admissions.
Asthma + Lung UK urges those who are allergic to pollen during the warmer weather to:
- Get the latest weather forecasts, including pollen counts and pollution levels
- If you own a preventer, use it as directed.
- Always carry a relief inhaler.
- Use a steroid nasal spray every day
- Antihistamines that do not make you drowsy
- If possible, try to avoid heat.
- Avoid the sun
- You can use a fan
- Exercise sensibly
- Cold water
- Stay cool in your home
- Cool off with a shower or bath
- Enjoy your meal as usual
Heart problems, kidney diseases, diabetes, and neurological disorders are all at risk when temperatures rise.
Dr Natasha Fernando MBBS MRCGP – head of Clinical Excellence at Medichecks – said that high temperatures could put additional strain on your cardiovascular system. This can lead to heart complications in people with conditions like heart disease, stroke, congestive failure or hypertension.
The effects of heat, dehydration, and electrolyte balance are worse for people with kidney disease.
For people with diabetes high temperatures can negatively impact their blood sugar management, and ultimately, the way they manage diabetes.
Heat can interfere with the ability of people who have certain neurological disorders to regulate their body temperature, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and autonomic dysregulation disorder.
They may have an increased sensitivity to heat. This puts them at greater risk for heat-related problems.