Over 300,000 people who have asthma and hayfever have been advised to take precautions as pollen season continues. Doing this means they can avoid a potentially fatal asthma attack.

The Asthma Society of Ireland is in the middle of its annual Hayfever Campaign for people who have both asthma and hayfever. The campaign includes the Pollen Tracker, supported by Dyson, providing daily updates of pollen levels across the four provinces, and also predictions of pollen levels for the following day.

The Asthma Society is encouraging people with hayfever to visit the Pollen Tracker page on asthma.ie often, and to ensure their hayfever is well managed this summer.

People with asthma need to ensure their hayfever is well managed throughout pollen season, which runs until September. The pollen tracker allows people to recognise the days that require additional precautions for managing their hayfever. The 80% of people with asthma who also have hayfever should visit the pollen tracker daily. This page also has some tips for surviving hayfever season.

During the pandemic, it is very important that people with asthma can distinguish between coronavirus and hayfever symptoms. The Asthma Society has worked with its medical advisory group to create a 'Know Your Symptoms' chart which allows people with asthma and COPD to recognise if their symptoms point to hayfever or to coronavirus. This is available on asthma.ie.

Common COVID-19 symptoms include feeling unwell, a temperature, a slight shortness of breath, or a persistent cough. The common symptoms of hayfever are: itchy eyes, itchy throat and a runny nose. The loss of smell and taste, which are symptoms of the start of the coronavirus, can also be symptoms of hayfever.

There are noticeable differences between COVID-19 and hayfever symptoms. For example, the COVID-19 cough is persistent, while a hayfever cough tends to occur at night-time. Hayfever sufferers don’t usually feel unwell or tired, but these are common symptoms of COVID-19.

When a patient has COVID-19, they usually are unwell and they tend to feel flu-like aches, pains or chills, which are not typical of hayfever. Many people have also identified tiredness as a feature of COVID-19. The tiredness that hayfever sufferers experience is related to patients taking certain antihistamines and not the condition itself.

Tips for successfully managing hayfever and asthma include:

  • Keep an eye daily on the Asthma Society’s pollen tracker.
  • Speak to a nurse on the Asthma Society’s free Asthma and COPD Adviceline (1800 44 54 64) about putting a hayfever management plan in place.
  • Use the Asthma Society’s new Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp patient support service for any questions on asthma, COPD, coronavirus or hayfever.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking medication to prevent/reduce symptoms. Don't wait until you feel unwell.
  • Keep windows shut in your bedroom at night.
  • Keep windows and doors closed when the pollen count is high.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible on high pollen days.
  • Stay away from grassy areas, especially when grass is freshly cut.
  • Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes.
  • Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes if you have been outside for an extended period of time. 

For more information, see asthma.ie