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Image / Editorial

How children and adults can avoid asthma attacks during Halloween


by Jennifer McShane
23rd Oct 2019
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Over the coming week, we will no doubt see an influx of adults and children exposed to smoke from bonfires and firework displays. Each year, the Asthma Society of Ireland warns those who suffer from the condition to be extra careful and if possible, to avoid fireworks or bonfires. 


“As Halloween is here, legal or not, many people will find themselves near bonfires and fireworks. Both children and adults who have asthma need to avoid the fumes which are produced by bonfires and fireworks at Halloween, ” the Asthma Society of Ireland, advises on their website. These fumes can cause difficulty breathing and can be fatal for some people with asthma.

However, if you have asthma and you find yourself at an event with bonfires and fireworks, each year they offer the following advice to ensure you stay as safe and healthy as possible:

  • Keep as much distance between you and the bonfire/fireworks fumes as possible
  • Carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you everywhere you go and use it if necessary over the Hallowe’en period,
  • Use your preventive inhaler as prescribed as this will help strengthen your respiratory system
  • The weather has turned cold, which is a major asthma trigger – dress in warm clothing and wear a scarf over your mouth which will help filter the air
  • Ensure someone with you knows about your asthma and knows how to help you if asthma symptoms occur
  • Carry your asthma attack card with you in case of an emergency

 

What else can ‘trigger’ asthma?

Dust mites:

House dust mites are tiny, spider-like creatures that live in fabrics, carpets and soft furnishing. They’re found in every home, school or office, no matter how clean. House dust mites like to live in places like your bed, your sofa and your curtains but because they’re invisible to the naked eye, you won’t be able to see them. While it is impossible to completely get rid of house dust mites there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce them and limit their impact on your asthma.

  • Damp-dust your house at least once a week
  • Remove any unwanted clutter in your home to avoid gathering dust
  • Wash your sheets, pillowcases, blankets and cuddly toys at 60 degrees or hotter every week
  • Use allergy-proof covers for mattress, pillow and blankets
  • Vacuum your pillows and mattress

Moulds:

Moulds come in many shapes, colours and sizes. Moulds grow best in damp places like bathrooms, kitchens, woody areas and even piles of autumn leaves.  Keeping your home dry and well ventilated is the best way to defend against these sneaky trespassers. If moulds are a trigger for your asthma, you may be allergic to the tiny, airborne spores that moulds use to spread and grow.

There are plenty of things you can do to tackle mould in your home.

  • Avoid drying clothes indoors. As they dry more moisture is released into the air in your home, which may allow mould to grow
  • When showering or cooking, use your extractor fan or open a window to let out the steam
  • Moulds will only grow in moist conditions:
      • Check for any leaks around your pipes or water appliances
      • Use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content if necessary

 Pets:

Many people are allergic to proteins that are present in the hair, feathers, saliva and dead skin cells shed by their animals. Although pets are a part of the family, they can present a huge problem for some people with asthma.

If your pet is a trigger for your asthma, it should be rehomed if possible. If this is not possible it can be difficult to limit the impact on your asthma but there are steps you can take.

  • Keep pets away from living areas and the bedroom, especially from fabric-covered furniture, rugs and carpets
  • Keep your pet outside as much as possible
  • Ensure your pet is properly washed by someone else
  • Vacuum regularly using a vacuum suitable for pet hair
  • If your pet is in a cage, make sure the cage is properly cleaned as often as possible

Main photograph: Unsplash

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