Up to 400,000 people with asthma also suffer from hay fever (allergic rhinitis ), which is triggered by pollen, dust and spores. Allergies often deter people from enjoying their garden.
Twelve tips to help you garden safely:
1. Choose plants that are pollinated by bees, the pollen is heavier and sticky and therefore stays on the bees rather than floating around the garden.
2. Avoid wind pollinated plants which disperse copious amounts of pollen into the air.
3. Avoid plants which are intensely fragrant as they can be a trigger for allergies and asthma.
4. Choose female plants, as they produce no pollen. Sterile male plants are also a good choice.
5. Grass is a major pollen producer so mow your lawn regularly, before it flowers.
6. Wear a mask when mowing lawn or trimming hedge.
7. If possible replace your lawn with gravel
8. Replace organic mulches with inorganic mulches
9. Avoid ornamental grasses in your planting schemes.
10. Remove hedges which harbour dust, pollen grains and mould spores which can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.
11. Planting female and thus fruiting trees will attract birds to feed on insects
12. If space is limited place bird feeders will attract birds to keep insect dander out of your breathable atmosphere.
For more information on gardening with asthma, visit the ‘Treat not Trigger’ garden or log onto asthmasociety.ie and download the ‘Gardening with Asthma & Allergies and Creating an Allergy-Friendly Garden’ booklet. The booklet is also available at the ‘Treat not Trigger’ information stand during the festival.
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs. Children with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances (or triggers ) which irritate them. Common triggers include cold and flu, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.
When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscle around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swell and produce a sticky mucus. As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out. That is why your child will find breathing difficult and you might hear a wheezing noise.
Whilst there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding ‘triggers’ and by the use of ‘reliever’ and ‘preventer’ medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when asthma appears. Preventers help calm down the airways and stop them from being so sensitive.
Talk to your GP or asthma nurse about which treatment is most suitable for you.