Asthma, Allergy and Spring - Be Prepared
With the onset of spring's warmer weather and longer brighter days, it is tempting to throw open windows and doors, to spring clean the house and to tidy up the garden. However, for people with asthma and allergies, spring can be a time of sneezing, runny noses and asthma attacks.
Asthma can be triggered by many things such as dust mites, mould, pets, exercise, cold air and viral infections as well as pollens. About half of people with asthma who have a skin prick allergy test, will test positive to grasses and pollens. Many people with asthma find that their symptoms are more trouble-some during certain times of the year; in particular this commonly occurs when pollen from various plants is present in the air.
Seasonal hay fever affects up to two million Australians. Other people can have allergic reactions in the form of rashes, contact dermatitis and hives. It is important to identify the triggers for each person. It is recommended that if you have allergy symptoms, you should
consult your doctor.
Common Spring Triggers
People with asthma have trigger factors. As part of a person's asthma management plan, it is important to identify and avoid contact with known trigger factors.
Allergen avoidance in the garden
- Choose bird or insect pollinated plants rather than wind-pollinated plants.
- Avoid being in the garden on hot still days and very windy days.
- Choose a low pollen producing grass such as buffalo grass or Greenless Park couch.
- Reduce weeds by using inorganic mulch such as pebbles and gravel and plant low maintenance ground cover plants.
- Choose lightly scented plants.
- Avoid compost heaps. If you do have a compost heap, ensure it has a lid.
- See your doctor to discuss allergy testing/nasal sprays.
Allergen avoidance in the home
Creating a low allergen home incorporates features which will reduce those triggers that may cause asthma. This will help reduce the dust mite population and the incidence of other allergens in the home.
It is important to ensure adequate ventilation in the home and this equates to an air change every hour. Unless windows have been completely sealed most homes provide this amount of ventilation.
Windows and Doors
Large windows and doors that are positioned to allow good cross ventilation when they are opened are preferred. Direct sunlight will increase the surface temperatures of any floor coverings and furnishings which will then reduce the relative humidity and effectively reduce the number of any dust mites.
Choose materials which are easy to wash and clean, reducing the risk of dust mites.