Hay fever season might not be your favorite season if you have asthma. Many factors including tree, grass, or weed pollen which cause hay fever can trigger asthma. If you know you’re asthma is easily triggered by hay fever, there are certain things you can do during this season to reduce the risk of hay fever triggering asthma. 80% of people living with asthma say hay fever triggers their asthma.
Asthma is the chronic inflammation of the airways. It is highly prevalent in children and usually develops during childhood, but adults can also develop it later in life. The airways are more sensitive to certain things, and these are referred to as triggers. These triggers inflame the airways causing them to swell and tighten. When an asthma attack happens, a person experiences wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. Properly using medication and shying away from known triggers can help prevent asthma attacks.
Hay fever, or medically known as allergic rhinitis, is caused due to an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens mainly pollen but can also be triggered by dust mites and pet dander. Allergic rhinitis presents with cold-like symptoms: runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing, and sinus pressure. So is hay fever just a cold? Unlike a cold, a virus does not cause hay fever; it is an allergic reaction.
Hay fever can make you miserable, draining you, and interfere with your daily lives. It just gets worse if you have asthma as you then have to prevent your hay fever from triggering an asthma attack. Hay fever season is usually the summer season when flora and fauna are on full bloom. So now you have to worry about two things. In this article, I will give you some tips on how to deal with asthma during hay fever season, so keep reading.
Know your pollen triggers?
As the seasons change, so does the types of pollen. For all you know you might be allergic to more than one kind of pollen across the year. There are pollen calendars available online for you to track your hay fever symptoms so you can get a better understanding of the type of pollen that affects you. Noting the days when your symptoms are at its worse will help you work out which pollen triggers your hay fever and when it is likely released during the year.
Inhalers - reducing the risk
Your inhalers are your best friends, especially the reliever inhaler. It is a good idea to carry your reliever inhaler (the blue one) with you every day. If you feel asthma symptoms coming on, take your reliever inhaler as advised. The inhaler will act on the spot to ease your symptoms as it quickly relaxes the smooth muscles in your airways. So make sure never to leave the house without your blue inhaler.
If you are a long term asthma sufferer, you will likely be on a preventer inhaler (brown inhaler) as well. This inhaler is equally essential in controlling your asthma. The brown inhaler reduces the sensitivity and swelling in your airways, stopping asthma-related wheezing and coughing before it even starts. So make sure you take the preventer inhaler as prescribed by your doctor as it reduces the risk of hay fever triggering your asthma symptoms.
To stop hay fever from triggering asthma, controlling asthma is just one step. By managing your hay fever, it can prevent it from escalating your asthma. There are different over the counter hay fever treatments you can quickly get from the pharmacy.
- Antihistamines - These are cheap, and quick-acting medications in the form of tablets, liquids, or nasal sprays take only take an hour or so to work. Antihistamines work by ease the symptoms you might experience with hay fever, and this reduces the risk of it triggering your asthma. This is great for helping you with mild hay fever symptoms.
- Steroid nasal spray - Steroid nasal sprays are the best way to deal with bad hay fever symptoms. The nasal spray is the best hay fever treatment and works by unblocking your nose. The spray delivers smalls amounts of steroids into the nose to reduce the swelling, helping you breathe more easily. Sadly, the beneficial effect does not happen immediately. Improving your breathing through your nose rather than your mouth moistens and filters the air, lowering the chance for the pollen to irritate your sensitive airways.
Asthma and hay fever is not an ideal combination. But if you follow these steps to manage your hay fever and asthma, you will be able to prevent the hay fever from triggering an asthma attack. However, if you notice your symptoms worsening to a point where you’re having severe difficulty breathing, such as an asthma attack, you might be experiencing an asthma attack. Please read our article on how to help someone going through an asthma attack here.
- Mayo Clinic. Hay fever - Symptoms and causes. [Online] Mayo Clinic. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20373039
- Asthma UK. Pollen as an asthma trigger. [Online] Asthma UK. Available from: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollen/
- NHS Choices. Hay fever. [Online] NHS. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/
- Asthma UK. Hay fever treatments. [Online] Asthma UK. Available from: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/inhalers-medicines-treatments/other/hay-fever/