Spring is a beautiful time of year, yet it brings with it a grave threat: pollen. For many of us, pollen is a trigger for asthma symptoms. There is a fine line between hay fever and asthma for many people, and pollen can tip that balance from inconvenient towards potentially deadly.
Allergic reactions are an extremely common cause of asthma attacks and similar symptoms of asthma. We often see a significant increase in asthma-related visits to our clinics during spring, specifically because of the increase in pollen in the air combined with people spending more time outside as the weather warms up. We’ve put together a quick list of some common questions we see and top tips on managing your asthma this pollen season.
Can an allergic reaction cause an asthma attack?
Allergic reactions caused by pollen and other hay fever-inducing triggers (such as dust mites), can quickly devolve into an asthma attack. When your body is exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction, it’s because your immune system is attacking foreign bodies, such as pollen, inside your body.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction are a consequence of your immune system’s antibodies binding with the foreign material. This can lead to a blocked or runny nose, itching skin, eczema symptoms or tightness in the chest and airways. This is how allergic reactions to pollen and other foreign substances can so easily devolve into an asthma attack.
High pollen levels combined with other triggering factors
Sometimes, high pollen levels can coincide with other factors that trigger asthma attack. Thunderstorms, high wind levels, heat or humidity can combine to cause a serious risk for asthma attack. In circumstances like these it is absolutely critical that you take all necessary steps to limit your exposure. If at all possible, stay indoors. Ensure you’re on top of any regular asthma medication and keep your puffer, nebuliser or other treatment nearby.
Where is pollen most common?
In many areas, pollen is most common in grasslands. Grass pollen can occur across large areas of grassland and often arises at once for short, intense periods of the year. Trees are also a big contributor to airborne pollen. As such, parklands ringed by trees can be one of the most trigger-intensive places for people with severe pollen allergies. In some areas, tree pollen can occur at extremely high levels, and should be avoided.
Understand your triggers, plan your day and importantly keep an eye on the weather. A windy day in an area with high pollen levels can be a recipe for disaster.
Keep an eye on the pollen forecast
The pollen forecast can help you understand how much pollen is likely to be getting about in your region on a particular day. Find your local government’s pollen forecast and set up regular alerts for when the pollen is likely to be thick in the air – this can help you make plans to avoid triggering an asthma attack.
How to manage your asthma
Effective management of your asthma symptoms is a critical part of ensuring that you don’t suffer needlessly from ongoing asthma attacks and responses to triggers in your environment. The key to managing your asthma effectively is understanding your personal triggering factors and how best to avoid them. After all, prevention is the best cure.
Secondary to preventing the onset of asthma symptoms is having an effective method of reducing their severity when they begin to take hold. For different people, this may come in the form of a puffer, a nebuliser or steroids in tablet form. There are many ways to treat asthma and your doctor will recommend something that is most appropriate for you.
Asthma cure and prevention
Asthma prevention depends entirely on your management plan. As for a cure, this is elusive. Due to the wide range of causes and symptoms, there is no real “cure” for asthma. However, there are some very effective means of managing it and eliminating symptoms to the point that asthma is only a minimal part of your life.
Get an asthma management plan
Do you want to learn how to better manage your asthma? We can help you with a full asthma assessment to understand your type of asthma and particular triggers. Using that information, we can provide you with an asthma management plan to help you avoid asthma attacks and reduce the severity of your symptoms.