Asthma and Respiratory Foundation Issues Warning.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ today, issues a warning to asthma and allergy sufferers to get prepared ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Respiratory disease affects 700,000 people in New Zealand. Asthma is a common illness affecting one in seven children and one in eight adults in New Zealand. 77 people die from asthma each year, that's just over 1 person per week. Allergies are extremely common in New Zealand, affecting one in three people.

Teresa Demetriou, Head of Education and Research at Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, comments:

"It's easy for us all to get excited about the summer holidays, but it's so important that we are mindful of asthma and allergy triggers at this time of year. Heat and high pollen levels can be a real problem for some people. A trigger is something that makes asthma or an allergy worse, and can bring on an asthma attack. The main message we want to get out there to people is - be prepared, and get informed about your triggers."

There are many ways that you can get better prepared. The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has put together a list of top tips to help you stay happy and well over the summer break:

  • Put together an asthma / allergy management plan with a health professional ahead of the holidays. This will help you to be more in control.

  • Get more informed about your triggers. This will help you manage your asthma and allergies and ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. Be careful around common holiday triggers like Christmas trees, outdoor bbq's and fires and products like sunscreens and mosquito repellents.

  • Being prepared and planning ahead before travelling is a must, including ensuring you have enough of your medication. This will help make your holiday memorable for the right reasons.

  • If you are away from home, keep medications close at hand. Relievers and most medicines work best in conditions lower than 25 degrees so avoid keeping it on the window sill, in the glove box or in direct sun.

  • It's easy to let your asthma routine slip during the holidays. Remember that for most people it is still important to take your prescribed preventer every day. So keep your usual routine up, unless otherwise advised.

  • It's important to ensure you have enough medication while travelling. If you know you are going to be away from your main bags for a long time, make sure you have everything you need in your hand luggage. It's always best to include more, just in case of misplaced suitcases.

  • Try to be careful around pets if that's your trigger, and always stay away from cigarette smoke - stay smoke free.

  • Finally, download the free 'My Asthma' app for easier asthma management.

Children and asthma

Teresa Demetriou from Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, goes onto comment more specifically about children with asthma:

"Over the school holidays children are often exposed to many varying environments, which is different to their normal school week. Doing things like going away on family trips, being looked after by other caregivers in new environments, or attending sleepovers at friends’ homes, can mean that your child is exposed to their asthma triggers. Knowing as much as you can about your child’s asthma triggers can help you to reduce exposure to them, making your child’s asthma easier to manage.”

If your child is being taken care of by another caregiver:

  • Ensure that the caregiver is aware of your child’s asthma and what to do if their asthma gets worse. It’s a good idea to give them a copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan and talk them through using their medication.

  • Ensure that your child feels comfortable enough with their caregiver to ask for assistance if they start to experience any asthma symptoms.

  • While it is not possible to ensure any space is dust-free, taking their own sleeping bag or other bedding can help reduce a child’s exposure and possible symptoms.

  • Make sure the caregiver is aware of possible activities that may be an issue e.g. pillow fights, hide-and-seek in high pollen areas.