BRITAIN’S asthma sufferers are being warned that an imminent triple weather threat could trigger dangerous reactions.
This ‘toxic cocktail’ triples the risk of potentially life-threatening asthma attacks for the six million people in the UK with the condition.
Emma Rubach, Head of Health Advice at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “It is bad enough when pollen levels are high around this time of year as pollen is a trigger for over half of people living with asthma, but when combined with warm weather and thunderstorms, the risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack increases.
“Pollen can inflame the airways of those with asthma, triggering symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.
“Stormy weather can make this even worse, as it breaks the pollen down into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled deeper into the lungs.
“Hot summer weather can trigger asthma symptoms for some people too. The causes are not clear, but it’s thought to be because hot air causes the airways to narrow, leading to coughing and shortness of breath.
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“When it's hot in summer, there are often higher levels of pollutants and pollens in the air generally too.”
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for ‘thunderstorms and downpours’ around much of the UK today, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth and Bath.
The thunderstorms and high pollen levels are expected to continue in ‘large parts’ of England for the rest of the week.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “Across a swathe of southern and central England, there is the combination of very high pollen levels and a thunderstorm warning.
“Pollen levels are forecast to remain high or very high across large parts of England for the next few days before lowering when more Atlantic-dominated weather, with wetter and fresher conditions, brings some respite for hay fever sufferers.
“It is likely that thunderstorms will remain a feature of the forecast until the weekend, but by their nature the development of thunderstorms will be sporadic with not everyone encountering them.”
With temperatures of up to 24 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country and the Department for Environmental, Food, Rural and Agricultural Affairs (DEFRA) website reporting that there will be a ‘moderate rise’ in pollution levels too, those with lung conditions like asthma need to take precautions, Emma Rubach added.
What to do in an asthma attack?
- Sit up straight - try to keep calm
- Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30-60 seconds up to 10 puffs
- If you feel worse at any point OR you don't feel better after 10 puffs call 999 for an ambulance
- Repeat step 2 after 15 minutes while you're waiting for an ambulance
Source: Asthma UK
She said: “We would advise people who have asthma that is triggered by pollen to take their preventer inhaler every day, as prescribed, alongside their usual hay fever medicines, to reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
“This reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, helping to prevent asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they even start.
“We would also urge those with asthma to carry their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them every day, especially when they are out and about enjoying the sunshine, in case pollen does trigger their asthma. Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.
“You can also reduce the risk of hay fever triggering an asthma attack by managing hay fever symptoms with antihistamines and/or a steroid nasal spray.
“There are lots of different medicine options for hay fever and your pharmacist or GP can help you choose the right one for you.”