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People with asthma urged to take precautions as pollen levels rise

A charity has warned people to be on their guard as pollen levels rise across the UK (PA)
A charity has warned people to be on their guard as pollen levels rise across the UK (PA)

Rising pollen levels this weekend could leave people with asthma at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks, a charity has warned.

Asthma and Lung UK said more than three million people in the UK have lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and are at risk of attacks or flare-ups.

The charity is telling people to ensure they keep on taking their preventer inhalers if they use them and to keep their reliever inhaler with them at all times.

Other tips include staying indoors on high pollen days and keeping an eye on weather forecasts to check the forecast.

The Met Office is predicting high pollen levels across most of England and Wales from Friday, with medium levels in other parts of the UK.

Pollen can trigger symptoms such as a tight chest, wheezing and breathlessness in more than half of people living with asthma (59%) and more than a quarter of those living with COPD, according to research from the charity.

Allergies can cause airways to tighten up and a build-up of sticky mucus, making it harder to breathe.

Asthma attacks can be fatal, with around four people in the UK dying from one every day.

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead for Asthma and Lung UK, said: “When pollen levels are at their highest this can be deadly for those with lung conditions like asthma who can suffer serious symptoms and have life-threatening attacks.

“These attacks can leave people fighting for breath, which can be terrifying, but there are things they can do to look after themselves.

“Using your preventer inhalers as prescribed is important as the medicine reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, helping to prevent symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they even start.

“We also advise people to carry their reliever inhalers every day, especially when they are out and about enjoying the sunshine in case pollen does cause a flare-up of their symptoms.

“Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.

“The third thing people can do is to use a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy antihistamine tablets to help stop the allergic reaction.

“People should also check pollen and air pollution forecasts in their local area, so they can avoid going outdoors as much as possible on high pollen days.”