At the beginning of the 2018 pollen season, Canberrans are being reminded to speak to their GP about asthma and hay fever management.
ACT Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly said people with asthma and hay fever and those who wheeze or sneeze in Spring should see their GP to make sure their asthma and hay fever management plan is in place.
“Asthma and hay fever are significant health problems in the ACT with 1 in 9 Canberrans suffering from asthma and 1 in 4 residents experiencing hay fever – the highest rate in Australia” Dr Kelly said.
“With spring now here, many people with these conditions will experience worsening of their symptoms due to an increase in grass and other pollens being present in the air.
“I encourage people to seek advice from their GP to put a management plan in place. Pharmacies also offer hay fever treatments and can provide advice on how to use those treatments most effectively.”
Dr Martin Liedvogel, local GP and Capital Health Network Board Director, said common symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, wheezing, tight feeling in the chest and continuing cough.
“People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs that react to triggers like pollen which can cause a ‘flare-up’ of symptoms,” Dr Liedvogel said.
“GPs can help people prepare a written asthma action plan to be able to respond to the flare up of symptoms when they occur,
“People who have asthma should also ensure they carry their blue reliever puffer with them at all times to manage flare-ups of symptoms when they occur.”
Dr Kelly said in extraordinary circumstances the combination of high pollen levels and a particular type of thunderstorm can severely affect people with hay fever who may have undiagnosed asthma. Known as thunderstorm asthma, it is a rare, but potentially life threatening scenario when certain environmental factors are triggered.
“A useful resource to help Canberrans monitor pollen levels is the free AirRater Smartphone app which provides users with real-time information on air quality,” Dr Kelly said.
“The AirRater app is also helpful in keeping the community aware of the environmental risk factors that can contribute to asthma or hay fever symptoms.
“I encourage people in our community to download the AirRater app, not only as a preventable measure for themselves, but also for loved ones who may be at risk during times of high pollen,” Dr Kelly concluded.
For more information on managing asthma and hay fever, download our fact sheet.
Download the free AirRater smartphone application: https://airrater.org/
Visit the daily Canberra Pollen Count and Forecast Service: http://www.canberrapollen.com.au
Further information is also available on the Asthma Australia website via: https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/nsw/home