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Is Pollen Bad For Asthma

What Are The Symptoms Of Allergic Asthma

Health expert suggests tips to deal with pollen, allergies this season

If you have allergic asthma, you may have many of the same symptoms you would experience with other types of asthma. These symptoms can include:

  • Coughing frequently, especially at night.
  • Experiencing chest tightness .

These symptoms can be very intense during an asthma attack. Make sure you have a treatment plan in place if you have severe asthma symptoms this plan often includes an inhaler .

You can also experience symptoms more closely related to allergies. These are usually less intense than asthma symptoms and can happen when youre exposed to an allergen. These symptoms can include:

How To Manage The Impact Of Pollen On Your Asthma

If your asthma seems to be triggered by pollen, you can try the following measures to reduce your pollen exposure however, research has not yet shown whether this approach effectively controls asthma symptoms.

Several strategies that dont involve avoiding pollen may also be helpful.

  • Make sure your asthma is as well controlled as possible by seeing your doctor before the pollen season gets under way. Ask about adjusting your preventive medicine for the likely increased exposure you will have to pollens over the coming months.
  • Also ask your doctor about having your pollen allergy confirmed with a skin-prick test or blood tests.
  • Monitor your asthma control, and follow your asthma action plan to adjust your medicine as instructed when your asthma control drops.
  • If you have both asthma and hay fever, ask your doctor about treatments for hay fever that may help improve asthma control.
  • Immunotherapy may be a possibility for some people with pollen allergy ask your doctor.


How Do Pollen Allergies Affect People With Asthma

People with asthma who are allergic to ragweed, mold or other fall allergens should be extra cautious as exposure can cause an asthma flare.

It is important to keep your asthma well controlled by taking daily medications exactly as prescribed, avoiding triggers and following your Asthma Action Plan.

Its also important to know how to use your inhaler correctly so that you maximize the amount of medication that makes it to your lungs and airways. Review the instructions periodically and demonstrate your inhaler technique at every doctor appointment to confirm youre using it correctly.

In the fall, ragweed pollen is believed to be one of the primary reasons for the a time in mid-September when asthma-related hospitalizations and ER visits spike. It happens soon after children go back to school and are exposed to more allergens as well as respiratory illnesses.

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Pollen And Pollution Exposures

The primary exposure was pollen concentrations in early life. Pollen levels were obtained from the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Daily concentration of total ambient pollen , measured as pollen per m3 of air, for the region was measured using a single Burkard trap, located on the roof of the Palynological Laboratory at Stockholm University, central Stockholm using methods that have been previously described. For each child, the mean pollen level for three periods: the first 12 weeks and the last 12 weeks of pregnancy, and the first 12 weeks of infancy, were calculated based on both the date of conception and date of birth. The City of Stockholm Environment and Health Administration provided data on the daily levels of NO2, O3, temperature and relative humidity, and period means were calculated.

Immunotherapy For Allergies To Pollen


In some cases, your clinical immunology/allergy specialist may suggest allergen immunotherapy which is also known as desensitisation. It involves a series of injections, tablets, sprays or drops given under the tongue of very small doses of the allergen over a long time. This can help to improve tolerance of the pollens that are triggering your allergy and reduce symptoms.

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Use Our Pollen Calendar

To work out which pollen sets off your hay fever, note the days and weeks when your symptoms are bad. Use our pollen calendar to see which pollen could be your trigger, and when its likely to be released.

Check the pollen forecast from the Met Office daily through the season if you know youre triggered.

Find useful tips from the NHS on how to treat yourself with hay fever.

See our information on hay fever treatments for more about antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops and other top tips to deal with symptoms of hay fever. This will help you cut your risk of an asthma attack or a flare up of your lung condition symptoms.

Asthma & Hayfever: Pollen Tracker


Mainly a low risk for weed pollen today and a moderate risk thereafter in some spots during good weather. The spore risk will be moderate to high. All allergens will be low on the eastern coasts due to onshore winds.

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. The pollen tracker can help people to recognise the days when they need to take additional precautions to manage their asthma and hayfever.

Our Pollen Tacker will run from April 2021 to August 2021.

Check here daily for your pollen count update!

Our pollen tracker updates daily showing the pollen levels across the 4 provinces. It is important to check the tracker each day to best manage your asthma and hay fever.

Up to 80% of people with asthma also have hayfever. If you would like advice on how to avoid allergy triggers and cope with allergic rhinitis please contact our Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64. You can also now use our new free Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp patient support service. For more information click here.

Our Pollen Tracker service is kindly supported byALK.

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How Is Climate Change Affecting Pollen Levels

Our changing climate has caused shifts in precipitation patterns, more frost-free days, warmer seasonal air temperatures, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These changes can affect:

  • when the pollen season starts and ends and how long it lasts each year,
  • how much pollen plants create and how much is in the air, and
  • how pollen affects human health.

Some of these changes in pollen due to climate change could have major impacts on human health such as increasing individuals exposure to pollen and their risk of having allergy and/or asthma symptoms.

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How To Help In An Asthma Attack:

How different weather conditions affect pollen levels

The following guidelines are suitable for both children and adults. Always follow the prescribed instructions on the casualtys medication. However, in the absence of this information the following guidance may be helpful:

For a copy of this poster, please email

Be calm and reassuring, as reducing the stress and keeping the casualty calm really helps them to control their symptoms and panic can increase the severity of an attack. Take one puff of the reliever inhaler , immediately using a spacer device if available.

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What Is Pollen Allergy

Pollen is fine grains released from grasses, weeds and trees that fertilise other plants. It is carried by insects, birds or the wind and can travel a very long way from the plant where it originated.

Some people are allergic to pollen, meaning the pollen makes their immune system react. If they are exposed to pollen, they can get itchy and inflamed eyes and nasal passages . The pollen can also enter the lungs and trigger asthma symptoms.

The amount of pollen in the air changes according to the season and where you live. For example, pollen counts can be very high in October and November in Melbourne and Hobart, and in the spring and summer in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra. Brisbane and Darwin have high pollen for most of the year.

Allergic rhinitis and asthma are very common in Australia, and people with pollen allergy may experience symptoms for many months. This will depend on where they live and the types of pollen they are allergic to. Many people, however, do not realise that pollen is the cause of their symptoms.

Sometimes pollen can trigger asthma in people who have never had it before, especially after a thunderstorm. This is known as thunderstorm asthma.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Pollen

If you are allergic to pollen, or if you have asthma you can take steps to protect yourself:

  • Check pollen forecasts on local news and online sources and plan to spend less time outdoors when pollen levels will be high.
  • Take your allergy and/or asthma medications as prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Dont touch your eyes while you are outside, and wash your hands when you go back inside .
  • Shower after being outside to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Change your clothes after being outdoors.
  • Keep windows closed during pollen season.
  • Use high-efficiency filters in your homes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Make sure your HVAC system can use high-efficiency filters and that they dont violate the systems warranty.

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Allergic Rhinitis Is A Common And Debilitating Disease

  • Allergic rhinitis affects around 18% of people in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Allergic rhinitis predisposes people to more frequent sinus infections.
  • People with allergic rhinitis are often tired due to poor sleep quality.
  • Moderate or severe allergic rhinitis can affect general health, impair learning, increase time off work, and reduce productivity.
  • Around 80% of people with asthma have allergic rhinitis, which can make asthma difficult to control.

When To See Your Gp

pollen bomb hits the uk bringing misery for hay fever and asthma

If you have hay fever, its likely that its triggering your asthma or lung condition symptoms if you:

  • have a tight feeling in your chest
  • are coughing more than usual
  • have asthma and are needing to use your reliever inhaler three times a week or more.

If you start treatment quickly, you can get on top of your symptoms and reduce your risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack or a COPD exacerbation. Ask your GP for an urgent, same day appointment, or if your GP surgery is closed call 111 for advice.

If you dont think you have hay fever, but your asthma or lung condition symptoms are getting worse, you should still see your GP urgently.

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Are There Certain Times Of The Day That Tend To Be Worse For Allergies

Airborne pollen tends to be highest early in the day, just after the dew dries, and on into early afternoon. High pollen levels can sometimes last until late afternoon. They can be most potent when conditions are warm, dry and breezy, and after a thunderstorm or rainfall.

The pollen count is never zero, so time your outdoor activities to when allergens are at their lowest. If you must be outdoors during high pollen times, avoid intense physical activity that causes rapid breathing the faster you breathe, the more allergens you inhale. Exercise indoors, if possible.

Overview Of Pollen Induced Asthma

In a reaction to pollen with asthma, you are likely to experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and breathing quickly. You will notice that you have the same reaction as you do with a pollen allergy, but it is likely more severe when asthma plays a role. Asthma is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which makes it very difficult to breathe. When this occurs, there are a variety of symptoms that are likely to follow.

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How Does The Weather Affect Symptoms

  • Humid air is moist and heavy. When the air is stagnant, air quality goes down, making breathing harder for everyone. It can trigger an asthma and allergy flare-up since mold and bacteria grow better in moist environments. Humid weather can worsen allergy symptoms.
  • Hot weather often impacts air quality. Ozone can rise to dangerous levels, irritating your respiratory system. Increased traffic, exhaust, smog and other pollutants can make breathing harder if you have asthma.
  • Cold, dry air may seem better for your breathing than hot, humid air, but unfortunately, breathing it in can make the bronchial tubes constrict and spasm as they try to keep airways open, making symptoms worse.
  • Thunderstorms bring barometric changes, high humidity and winds that blow pollen and mold spores everywhere. This can lead to a phenomenon called thunderstorm asthma. In addition, lightning generates nitrogen oxides that can impact ground-level ozone, irritating the lungs and airways.
  • Changing weather patterns alter barometric pressure, which can trigger sinus problems and make breathing harder if you have asthma.

Do Allergy Seasons Really Vary In Intensity From Year To Year

Increased pollen may worsen seasonal allergies

Many doctors and scientists say allergy seasons are intensifying, starting earlier and lasting longer. Climate change is a factor. Its fueled in part by rising temperatures and mild winters, allowing pollen-producing trees and grass to bloom earlier. The extended growing seasons leads to increased levels of airborne allergens.

In addition, snowmelt in late winter or early spring can increase moisture that allows trees to produce more pollen when they bloom.

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Key Steps To Reduce The Likelihood Of An Attack:

Take your asthma medication

If you are asthmatic and have a pollen allergy, ensure you have your asthma medication with you at all times. Particularly your blue reliever inhaler.

But also take your hay fever medicine

Research has shown that asthma sufferers who also have hay fever can significantly reduce their risk of needing to go to A& E if they treat their hay fever effectively.

Antihistamines will reduce your sensitivity to the histamine released by your body in response to the pollen.

If you are taking Fexofenadine ensure you are not taking them with orange juice or grapefruit as this can dramatically reduce the efficacy of your medication.

Read our full article on how grapefruit affects your medication

Some antihistamine medications become less effective after continued use. If one antihistamine is not working for you, speak with your pharmacist and try alternatives to see if others work better.

Be careful taking antihistamines that can cause drowsiness.

Many of the same antihistamine medication is marketed by different drug companies, look carefully at the generic name of the medication and you may find it is possible to buy the identical medication much cheaper as a generic brand. Ask your pharmacist to help and advise.

When does hay fever season start?

Grass pollens are the most common cause of hay fever, being the trigger for 95% of peoples hay fever. It usually affects people in May, June and July.

What Are The Causes Of Allergic Asthma

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to the presence of a harmless substance called an allergen. Allergic asthma is when you develop breathing difficulties from inhaling allergens. It occurs when the airways swell as part of an allergic reaction.

Common allergens that can cause allergic asthma include:

  • cockroach droppings

You may notice that your allergy symptoms get worse during certain seasons due to increased pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.

However, allergic asthma symptoms can occur year-round. This may be due to mold spores, which can grow indoors or outdoors on damp surfaces. Indoor dust mites feed on human skin cells and live in pillows, carpets, and other fabrics. And feces, saliva, dander, and other substances released by cockroaches, rodents, and pets can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

You might be surprised to learn that certain foods can cause an asthmatic reaction in a small number of people. Common food triggers include milk, shellfish, eggs, soy products, peanuts, gluten, tree nuts, and sesame seeds. Histamines and sulphites in alcohol products like beer and wine can also trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

Irritants such as air pollution, aerosol cleaning products, tobacco smoke, wood fires, and strong odors dont cause an allergic reaction. But they may inflame your airways and make asthma symptoms worse.

Symptoms of an asthma attack include:

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Is Your Nose Making Your Asthma Worse

Up to four out of five people with asthma also have allergies like hay fever either at certain times of the year or all year round.

An itchy, runny or blocked nose due to allergies can make your asthma harder to control. If that sounds like you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


It is important to note that information contained in this brochure is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

Thunderstorms And Weather Changes Can Trigger Asthma Attacks

Pollen, Alder tree, Pollen allergies

Thunderstorm asthma is triggered by massive loads of small pollen allergen particles being released into the air with fast changes in wind, temperature and humidity.

When it rains or is humid, pollen grains can absorb moisture and burst open, releasing hundreds of small pollen allergen particles that can enter the small airways of the lungs.

It is important to note that:

  • Not all thunderstorms trigger thunderstorm asthma, even on days with high pollen counts.
  • Other weather factors are involved in thunderstorm asthma.
  • It is not only people with pollen allergy who may be affected by thunderstorm asthma.
  • Other allergens such as fungal spores, massive humidity and temperature changes over a short period of time can affect some people with asthma and other respiratory diseases during a thunderstorm.

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