herald

Thursday 21 November 2019

Asthma warning as illness claims a life 'every 6 days'

Charity boss Sarah O’Connor
Charity boss Sarah O’Connor

Asthma deaths are on the up in Ireland, with the common lung condition now claiming a life every six days.

The average number of asthma deaths in the past was up to 50 in a year. This has now risen to 70.

Many of these deaths are preventable by better personal management of the condition, timely medical reviews and the use of appropriate drugs.

The shock figures come as the country's 304,000 asthma sufferers are being warned to take precautions tomorrow and Sunday, when temperatures and the pollen count are set to rise.

Asthma Society of Ireland chief executive Sarah O'Connor said people who suffer from asthma and hayfever are particularly at risk.

"Hayfever symptoms are capable of escalating an asthma attack, which in some cases can be fatal," she said.

Summer

"Asthma deaths are rising in Ireland, with one person now dying every six days as a result of the condition.

"In addition, people with hayfever experience symptoms which really compromise their quality of life and their ability to enjoy the summer months."

A severe asthma attack can prevent the sufferer from getting enough oxygen in the lungs and cause breathing to stop.

The society's medical director Dr Marcus Butler said: "It is vital that all asthma patients with pollen or grass allergy have an asthma action plan."

The plan can include talking to a doctor or pharmacist about taking medication to prevent or reduce symptoms.

Also, stay away from grassy areas and put petroleum jelly on nostrils to trap pollen. Better still, stay indoors with windows shut when the pollen count is high.

If you must go out, wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen entering your eyes, and avoid drying clothes outdoors, or shake them outdoors before bringing them in.

Attack symptoms include wheezing, coughing and chest tightness that becomes severe and constant.

You can call the Asthma Society's advice line on 1800 44 54 64.

Check the daily pollen tracker on asthma.ie.

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