With Halloween just around the corner the Asthma Society of Ireland is urging people of all ages, with asthma and allergies, to take special care and be mindful of the triggers that can worsen their symptoms.
Halloween can be a dangerous time for asthma sufferers, especially children, as there are many common triggers that will be magnified by its activities, worsening asthma symptoms. In Ireland, asthma affects one in 10 adults and one in five children. Approximately one person a week dies as a result of asthma, yet 90 per cent of these deaths are preventable.
“Changes in weather, excitement, and certain foods coupled with additional triggers such as smoke from bonfires and fireworks can all affect respiratory conditions, making Halloween a tricky time for asthma and allergy sufferers, especially children," said John Holohan, the Asthma Society's head of communications.
"By being aware and prepared for the likely triggers, people with asthma, and parents of children with asthma, can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all during the festivities. Simple steps like remembering asthma medication and carrying a reliever inhaler at all times can make a big difference and help everyone with asthma enjoy Halloween safely.”
Top Halloween asthma tips
To help ensure asthma is managed and controlled during Halloween, follow these simple steps:
Make sure you or your child's reliever (blue ) is available at all times.
Make sure that new Halloween costumes do not contain latex. If costumes have been stored since last year, be aware they could contain dust and moulds. Wash them before use.
Halloween masks can interfere with breathing, so children with asthma should opt for a half mask or no mask at all. Be mindful of masks which may contain latex.
If your child's asthma is triggered by dampness or frosty conditions, check the weather forecast. Trick-or-treating in cold, frosty, weather can cause asthma symptoms to flare up.
Gunpowder residue, used in fireworks, can be a powerful trigger. If there is a likelihood of fireworks make sure your child has taken extra reliever inhaler before leaving home.
Smoke from bonfires may act as an irritant and trigger an asthma attack; as such it is advisable to avoid bonfires.
Colds and flu viruses are common asthma triggers. If your child is suffering from a cold or flu always give him/her the medication as prescribed and ensure he/she washes his/her hands to stop the spread of colds and viruses.
If your child has a food allergy check any sweets, nuts, or chocolate he/she collects trick or treating to ensure it is safe for your child to consume.
The Asthma Society also urges everyone with asthma to put an asthma action plan in place. To get yours, ask your GP or call The Asthma Socity's Adviceline on 1850 44 54 64. You can also download one from www.asthma.ie or use the plan in the Asthma Coach app for iPhone.