People with asthma are being reminded to be particularly aware of potential asthma triggers, many of which are present at this time of year.
Around 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma and according to the CEO of the Asthma Society, Sarah O'Connor, this time of year ‘can be extremely dangerous' for them.
"During the festive season, people don't take their asthma as seriously as they might throughout the rest of the year. It is so important that people with asthma plan ahead for the holiday season, ensuring that they or their child have enough medication to last the Christmas, as pharmacies will be closed," Ms O'Connor said.
She reminded people of the importance of sticking with their usual asthma routine, and to take their asthma medication daily.
The Asthma Society has highlighted common asthma triggers over the Christmas period:
-Artificial Christmas trees and decorations. These tend to gather mould and dust when they are in storage all year. People should damp dust them when removed from storage, and repeat this before they are put away in the New Year. They should be wrapped in plastic before storage
-Real Christmas trees or any other greenery such as mistletoe contain mould which thrives in warm environments. This mould can grow in your home and the spores can trigger asthma. You should hose down the tree before brining it in, keep it in the coolest part of the house if possible and remove it if it is triggering your asthma
-Open fires give off smoke and fumes, which can be a big trigger. Avoid open fires where possible if this triggers your asthma. Otherwise, burn smokeless fuel and ensure your chimney is clean if using it
-Scented candles can be a big trigger, so use non-scented or LED candles instead
-Food may contain ingredients that people with asthma are allergic to, and people tend to eat more at this time of year. Know your allergies and do not eat foods you are allergic to. Let family and friends know about any allergies you have if they are preparing food for you
-Alcohol contains histamines and sulphites which can trigger asthma. Avoid drinking certain types of alcohol if they are a trigger for you and bring your own alcohol to parties, so you know exactly what you are drinking.
-Weather changes can have a big impact, especially the cold. Breathe through a scarf when outside to help filter the cold air
-Stress can be a big trigger for many and can be common at this time of the year. Try to remain calm and if you are unable to get your stress under control, speak to a family member, friend or professional. Meditation and yoga may help some people
-Colds and flu can be dangerous for people with asthma. Get vaccinated against the flu if you have not already done so. For tips on how to deal with colds and flu, click here
-Sex can be a trigger like other forms of exercise, so always have your medication close by and if symptoms occur during sex, do not be afraid to stop and use your inhaler
-Smoking can be a big trigger. Do not smoke if you have asthma and do not allow smoking in your home. Try to avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible
-Cleaning products can be a trigger and many people use them before and after Christmas. Where possible, use natural cleaning agents, such as lemon and water.
For more information on the Asthma Society, click here