Hay fever and asthma
One of the most common allergies in this country is hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from hay fever, characterised by a runny nose, sneezing, and eye irritation. Other symptoms include headaches and a sore throat.
Hay fever and respiratory problems, such as asthma, are also closely associated. Some hay fever sufferers may even experience mild asthmatic symptoms when the pollen count is high, anyone who experiences any shortness of breath or wheezing alongside hay fever symptoms should consult a GP who may prescribe an inhaler.
According to Asthma UK, around 80% of asthma sufferers also have an allergy to pollen, which means they are more at risk of suffering an asthma attack during hay fever season.
Other common triggers include stress, exercise, certain foods, air pollution, household dust, animals and pets, plants and flowers, cigarette smoke, car exhaust fumes, dry ice machines, perfumes and air fresheners, which means that asthma sufferers need to monitor their surroundings constantly in order to minimise their chances of suffering an attack.
All asthma sufferers should make sure they attend regular reviews with an asthma nurse, as well as monitoring their use of inhalers to ensure they are managing their medication correctly.
According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million or 1 in 11 people in the UK are asthmatic and, tragically, three people lose their lives every day as a result of an asthma attack. If you suspect you may be asthmatic, see your GP about your concerns without delay. For those who have already been diagnosed, Asthma UK produces a range of resources to help you understand and control your asthma, including downloadable asthma action plans to help you manage your own or a family members condition and stay well.
Another common trigger for both hay fever and asthma is alcohol, which contains the naturally occurring chemical histamine. This is the same chemical released by the body in response to allergens, causing inflammation and an immune response. Histamine is particularly high in red wine and most beers. Between 3 and 10% of asthmatics are also sensitive to sulphites, found in high quantities in white wines and ciders.
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