Weather means mould risk for asthmatics

mould risk: flood sign by flooded road

With miserable weather lashing the East Coast, pharmacists and people with asthma need to be aware that mould breeding in damp conditions can be a trigger for attacks.

Michele Goldman, CEO of the Asthma Foundation NSW, told the AJP that mould allergy is often overlooked by people with asthma and allergies.

“Mould is a very common trigger for people with asthma and other allergies too, and it’s a little bit hidden: if you aren’t aware that mould is a trigger, you might start to experience symptoms and not understand why your asthma is getting worse,” she says.

Mould is often left behind as flood waters subside, but it also flourishes in other environments experiencing damp conditions.

“We’ve heard anecdotal stories about people who’ve experienced their asthma getting worse during the day and worse over the week, and getting better on the weekend – and further down the track it’s been identified that there’s a leak in the workplace. It can be as simple as that.

“But equally at home, with all this dampness, it might not be immediately visible where the dampness is, but mould spores could be breeding.

“So in this weather, we’d encourage people with asthma to be extra-alert to any symptoms they might experience.”

They also need to be aware that asthma does not always present as breathlessness and wheeze.

“It can manifest as a feeling of tightness in the chest, or a persistent cough – so if your child suddenly seems to get a persistent cough, you need to explore whether something’s triggering that.

“Pharmacists play a really vital role as front-line services in asthma, as everyone with asthma goes to a pharmacy, even if they don’t go to a GP to have their asthma properly assessed.

“So our advice to pharmacists would be to use this opportunity to engage in a conversation about whether people are taking their preventer medication regularly, which many are not, and whether they’re using their device correctly, which is a huge problem.”

She encourages pharmacists to consider asthma and allergy in customers presenting with persistent cough, and to use the Asthma Infoline to seek further information on asthma.

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