Asthma Society of Ireland highlights differences between COVID-19 and hayfever as they launch ALK supported hayfever campaign

Asthma Society launches pollen tracker and respiratory nurse provides top tips to help manage hayfever related symptoms

304,000 people in Ireland have both asthma and hayfever. While the symptoms for many are just frustrating, unmanaged hayfever can cause asthma symptoms to heighten and escalate into an asthma attack, which can be fatal. With this in mind, the Asthma Society of Ireland today launches their annual hayfever campaign aimed at providing practical support for alleviating unpleasant hayfever symptoms like itchy eyes, scratchy throat and running nose.

The Asthma Society of Ireland Hayfever Campaign is kindly supported by ALK. As part of the campaign, the Asthma Society pollen tracker will provide daily updates on pollen levels around Ireland including regional prediction levels for the current and following day. ‘Pollen Season’ runs from now until September, and people with asthma are advised to ensure their asthma and hayfever are well managed. Updates are available now on www.asthma.ie, and the pollen tracker can help people to recognise the days when they need to take additional precautions to manage their asthma and hayfever.

As we enter into the pollen season amid an ongoing pandemic, it is extremely important to be aware of the differences between asthma, hayfever and COVID-19 symptoms. Common COVID-19 symptoms include feeling unwell, high temperature, shortness of breath, or a persistent cough. Common hayfever symptoms include itchy eyes, scratchy throat and running nose. The loss of sense of smell and of taste, which are symptoms of COVID-19, can also be a symptom of hayfever.

Dr Dermot Nolan, GP and National Clinical Lead on Asthma to the HSE and Advisor to the Asthma Society  said, “There are noticeable differences between COVID-19 and hayfever symptoms. The COVID-19 cough is persistent, while a hayfever cough tends to occur at night-time. Hayfever sufferers don’t usually feel unwell or tired, but these are common symptoms of COVID-19. People with hayfever, although they have symptoms, do not  tend to feel particularly unwell.

When a patient has СOVID-19, they usually are unwell and tend to feel flu-like aches, pains or chills in their body, which is not typical of hayfever. Many people have also identified tiredness as a feature of COVID-19 but any tiredness that hayfever sufferers experience is related to patients taking certain antihistamines and not the condition itself.”

Ruth Morrow, Respiratory Nurse Specialist at the Asthma Society of Ireland said,
“The Asthma Society is delighted to launch our Hayfever Campaign, supported by ALK.  The pollen tracker on our website helps us to highlight when periods of high pollen or bad weather are coming up so people with hayfever can better manage their symptoms.  We have also put together a number of practical tips for management of hayfever symptoms.   

We encourage people with asthma and hayfever to be vigilant about managing their symptoms and to continue to follow HSE guidance around COVID-19.  If people have concerns, we would encourage them to actively reach out for help via our free nurse led Adviceline and Whatsapp Messaging Services or their own healthcare professional.

With Leaving Certificate and college exams fast approaching, it is also worth noting that research has shown that students with hayfever can drop up to a full grade if they have unmanaged symptoms – so now is the time to get a plan in place and start preventative treatment as the pollen levels increase in Ireland over the coming months.”

Top tips for asthma and hayfever management include: 

  1. Speak to an experienced respiratory nurse from the Asthma Adviceline service on 1800 44 54 64 and put a hayfever management plan in place.
  2. Whatsapp message the Asthma and COPD patient support service on 086 059 0132 for any questions/queries on asthma, hayfever and COVID-19 symptoms.
  3. Speak with a healthcare professional about taking medication to prevent/reduce symptoms. Don’t wait until you feel unwell.  Early action is key to prevent an escalation of symptoms.
  4. Keep windows closed at night time or when the pollen count is high.
  5. Monitor the pollen tracker and minimize time spent outdoors when the pollen count is high.
  6. Stay away from areas with freshly cut grass and don’t keep fresh flowers in the house.
  7. Apply vaseline around nostrils when outdoors in order to trap pollen.
  8. Wear wraparound sunglasses to minimize levels of pollen irritating your eyes. Splash your eyes with cold water to help flush out pollen and soothe and cool your eyes.
  9. Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes if you have been outdoors for an extended period of time.
  10. Exercise in the morning rather than the evening when there are higher rates of pollen falling.
  11. Avoid drying clothes outdoors and shake clothes outside before bringing them inside – particularly bedclothes.
  12. Minimise contact with pets that have been outdoors and are likely to carry pollen.

Mary Martin, Business Manager Ireland at ALK said,
ALK is delighted to support the Asthma Society of Ireland’s Hayfever Campaign and let’s hope we all have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful Summer outdoors this year.”

For more information on managing your hayfever, visit  http://www.asthma.ie and keep an eye on our social media https://www.instagram.com/asthmasocietyofireland/ and https://www.facebook.com/asthmasociety for more help managing your condition.

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