Wednesday 12 December 2018

Health warning: Take precautions during Beast from the East

Stock Photo: Getty Images
Stock Photo: Getty Images
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

People with asthma have been warned to take care as cold temperatures are due to sweep in from Siberia.

Kevin Kelly, advocacy and communications manager of the Asthma Society of Ireland said changes in temperatures can cause asthmatic symptoms to worsen. Asthma affects one in ten people in Ireland.

“People with asthma with the approaching Beast from the East need to be aware to take certain precautions, to ensure their asthma symptoms do not worsen,” Mr Kelly told

“Quite a few of the 470,000 people in Ireland who have asthma are going to notice a deterioration in their asthma control. There are a number of precautions. The first is taking their medication as prescribed, always carrying your reliever inhaler with you.”

“People with asthma’s airways are always sensitive, hence the cold weather can cause the airways to spasm… so people with asthma should wear a scarf over their mouth and nose because that warms up the cold air before it reaches the airways.”

“People who are asthamatic and play sports outdoors, need to be particularly cautious and ensure that they warm up for ten to 15 mins and take two puffs of their inhaler before they start exercising.”

“If you notice your asthma symptoms worsening and you are taking your reliever inhaler more than twice a week, you should see your GP,” he added.

Tips for Managing Asthma during Winter

•         Take your daily prescribed medication and have your reliever with you at all times

•         It is important to use a reliever inhaler before going out in frosty, damp conditions

•         On cold windy days wear a scarf over your nose and mouth - this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in

•         Take care to ensure that you don’t become over stressed and have effective ways of dealing with it

•         Keep taking your medication regularly as prescribed in order to control symptoms

•         Speak to your GP if asthma symptoms worsen at night or you are using your blue inhaler more than twice a week

•         Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes. Take two puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start

•         If you are going on a winter holiday make sure you have enough medication with you to last the entire trip, and speak to your GP if you have any concerns about triggers at your destination

•         Be aware that the following are common triggers for people with asthma at this time of year; Chest infections, sudden changes in temperature, cold / windy conditions

Asthma nurse specialists are available to guide anyone affected on the society's adviceline on 1800 44 54 64.

Meanwhile, on its website the HSE warns that winter can be a difficult time for older people and other vulnerable people.

The HSE advices this group to "keep warm, eat well and avoid unnecessary travel".

"You should eat regular hot meals and drink plenty of fluids. This will keep you warm and will give you energy to keep active," the HSE advises.

"Ensure you have sufficient supplies of food and of any prescription medicine you may need. Keep active indoors."

"Have sufficient fuel supplies to maintain adequate heating in your home."

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