A spring warning to keep breathing easy

GOOD ADVICE: South West Healthcare asthma experts Michelle Evans and Sarah Irving are passing on the message to be aware of asthma triggers.

GOOD ADVICE: South West Healthcare asthma experts Michelle Evans and Sarah Irving are passing on the message to be aware of asthma triggers.

SOUTH-WEST residents who suffer from asthma are urged to be vigilant with the arrival of spring.

South West Healthcare pediatric asthma co-ordinator Sarah Irving said the unpredictability that came with the change of seasons could trigger health issues.

“If there is a thunderstorm at this time of year and in the summer, emergency departments fill up with children and adults with asthma that is sudden and severe,” Ms Irving said. “This is related to ryegrass pollen which is common in areas like Warrnambool.

“The ryegrass breaks up into really small particles just before a thunderstorm.

“We would advise people with asthma to stay indoors before or after a thunderstorm. People with spring allergies need to keep an eye on the pollen count.

“The danger times are early in the morning or late in the afternoon and also on windy days.

“We would also advise people who are sensitive to pollens to try and dry their bedding indoors as much as possible.”

Ms Irving said asthma remained a formidable health condition for people to deal with.

She said more than 400 people died from asthma each year in Australia.

While Ms Irving remains busy treating asthma in children, the risk to the adult population remains ever present.

Michelle Evans is the respiratory nurse educator at South West Healthcare.

Ms Evans said asthma could arrive at anytime.

“You can get asthma at any age. A lot of people are first diagnosed with asthma in their 40s or 50s,” Ms Evans said. “You can’t really prevent getting asthma. It can be genetic or from exposure to lung irritants. 

“To help reduce having flare-ups, see your GP regularly and take your preventer medications as prescribed.

In the Australia’s Health 2016  report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this month, figures show one in 10 Australians are affected by asthma. 

The report found indigenous Australians were nearly twice as likely to have asthma compared with non-Indigenous Australians. In 2013-14, asthma accounted for 37,700 hospitalisations.

Ms Irving said asthma was becoming more common in Australia and in other western countries but pinning down a cause remained a mystery.

“Lots of research is being done and lots of theories but nothing has been proven,” Ms Irving said about what causes asthma.

Both Ms Irving and Ms Evans said having a written asthma plan was a must for people with the condition.

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