Christmas Risks for People with Asthma
Hidden asthma triggers at Christmas and severe weather can make keeping asthma controlled over the Christmas period challenging for many people with asthma and for parents of children with asthma in Ireland. The Asthma Society of Ireland runs its “Control Asthma at Christmas” awareness campaign in the lead up to Christmas to highlight the important message that this time of year can cause many problems for people with asthma. It is especially important to follow your doctor’s medical advice if you notice your asthma symptoms worsening and to always make sure you or your child takes their asthma medication as prescribed.
The Asthma Society of Ireland recommends asthma sufferers to take the following steps to minimise exposure to triggers and maintain asthma control over the festive season:
- Christmas trees gather mould from being outdoors in wet weather. Mould spores are common asthma triggers. Ideally, buy an artificial tree for the home and wipe it down to remove any dust particles. If you are intent on having a real tree, allow your tree to dry fully before bringing it into the home.
- If you are using an artificial tree, which has not been stored in a sealed bag, it may be harbouring dust, it is advisable to vacuum artificial trees before use, to remove all dust particles.
- Avoid artificial snow sprays and fragrance sprays which can all induce asthma symptoms.
- Wash fabric decorations in hot water before displaying; this will get rid of any dust that has been gathered while in storage. Plastic, glass or metal decorations should be used in order to prevent them gathering dust mites. Put artificial trees in a closed or sealed bag for storing.
- Always carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times.
- Always take your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor or health care professional.
- If you know that cold air triggers you asthma, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler before venturing outside in the cold air. Remember to carry your Asthma Attack Card with you.
- In freezing conditions, prescribed inhalers may not work properly. They should be warmed (e.g. in the hands) before use.
Asthma Society of Ireland Asthma Nurse Specialist Frances Guiney commented on the “Control Asthma at Christmas” campaign; “Christmas and the festive season can be a difficult time for people with asthma for whom smoke fires, candles and New Year fireworks is a trigger. It is recommended for asthma sufferers to avoid smoky situations wherever possible and to admire fireworks from indoors. Having a good asthma management plan is one of the best ways to control your asthma, so speak to your health care professional to make sure your plan is working to control your asthma.”
Christmas time can create additional pressures, the Asthma Society recommends people with asthma to try and avoid unnecessary stress. Asthma Nurse Frances Guiney continued; “If stress is a trigger for your asthma, monitoring your condition and taking your medicine regularly should help to minimise symptoms. Speak to your doctor or call the Asthma Helpline if you are going through a difficult time and feel you need more support.”
By following these simple steps, people with asthma and parents of children with asthma can help to ensure they stay healthy and enjoy optimal asthma control over the Christmas period.
For further information contact the Asthma Society of Ireland on 1850 44 54 64.