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Friday 9 December 2016

Having an asthma plan can save your life, experts warn

health

Conor O' Hanolon from Clontarf and Laoise O'Morain from Sandymount (both age 6) with Pharmacist Susan O'Dwyer, Healthcare Development Manager with Boots Ireland are blown with a breath of fresh air by Sharon Cosgrove, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland
Conor O' Hanolon from Clontarf and Laoise O'Morain from Sandymount (both age 6) with Pharmacist Susan O'Dwyer, Healthcare Development Manager with Boots Ireland are blown with a breath of fresh air by Sharon Cosgrove, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland

Asthma experts are calling on sufferers to put an "asthma action plan" in place ahead of this summer's hayfever season.

As many as 80pc of the 470,000 Irish people with asthma also suffer from hayfever and Asthma Society of Ireland chief executive Sharon Cosgrove has said "preparation is vital" in tackling both conditions.

"Hayfever is a significant trigger for asthma and it is important to have a plan in place to manage both your asthma and allergies," she said.

The organisation launched the initiative to mark World Asthma Day today.

dying

"Start taking your medication now even if you haven't started feeling the effects of your allergy," Ms Cosgrove advised.

Ireland has the fourth highest incidence of asthma in the world affecting 1 in 10 people and 1 in 5 children.

Every 26 minutes someone visits A&E in Ireland because of asthma with one person a week dying from the condition.

Experts say you are four times more likely to go to hospital with asthma if you do not have an asthma action plan.

Ms Cosgrove has said simple steps, such as writing down your triggers and tracking your medication, are vital in the process.

"Studies have shown that having an asthma action plan reduces hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

"We find that 79pc of visitors to our clinics did not have an action plan in place.

"It is very important to get this right. If you have hayfever you should avoid exercising outside this summer.

"If you have an allergy to animals, stay away from them.

"It is important to know what can trigger an attack."

Dublin woman Catriona Kennedy has said she always had a plan in place and is now able to climb mountains due to new treatments.

The 38-year-old, who has suffered from a severe form of the disease since birth, said her life has changed thanks to new drug Xolair.

"Life used to be very difficult," she said. "I could never exercise or climb hills but now I can travel the world and have climbed to the highest peak in every county in Ireland."

For the last four years, Catriona has been given two injections of the life-changing medicine twice a month.

The Blackrock woman travels to Blanchardstown Hospital where she is kept for a number of hours for observation after every dose.

Ms Cosgrove has praised the treatment. For the small number of people that Xolair works for, it is a wonderful treatment, however there is inequity of access in some parts of the country”. It is only administered in a hospital setting.

She said she would like to see the treatment made available at primary care centres nationwide.

World Asthma Day is a global initiative to raise awareness of this chronic disease and increase education of the most effective ways to control and treat it.

It is estimated that the number of people with asthma worldwide will grow by more than 100 million by 2025.

Approximately 250,000 people die prematurely each year from asthma.

Advice on how to avoid allergy triggers and cope with hayfever is available on the Asthma Adviceline on 1850 44 54 64.

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