Asthma Australia is urging Tasmanians to check in on their asthma and hay fever with a big grass pollen season forecast, officially kicking off this month.

Tasmania has Australia’s highest rates of asthma – affecting 13.4 per cent of the population – with spring being a difficult time due to an increased amount of pollen in the air which may trigger hay fever symptoms, an asthma flare-up or attack.

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said now is a great time to call 1800 ASTHMA to find out ways to manage your symptoms during pollen season.

“People with asthma have airways that can be sensitive to triggers like pollen making them more prone to hay fever, which can worsen their asthma,” Ms Goldman said.

“However, we know people who are on top of their asthma and hay fever tend to be less affected – which is why we are encouraging them to reach out for help now.

Asthma Australia’s free 1800 ASTHMA service is staffed by trained Asthma Educators to provide additional information and support to help empower people with asthma in treating their condition.

After a recent frightening episode, Tasmanian local and Asthma Champion, Toni McLean called 1800 ASTHMA for help.

“Until I spoke with an Asthma Educator, I did not realise how poorly controlled my asthma was,” Ms McLean said.

“I’d been putting up with it for so long. I didn’t understand my asthma, so I wasn’t able to communicate my symptoms and triggers clearly with my doctor.

“After speaking to the Educator, I gained the knowledge and confidence I needed to treat my symptoms proactively, rather than letting my asthma unravel.

“I am now working closely with my doctor to create a good asthma management plan together.”

In addition to managing symptoms, people with asthma and hay fever are being encouraged to use pollen monitoring mobile apps –  like AirRater –  to check pollen levels to help prevent unnecessary exposure.

AirRater researcher Penelope Jones, a research fellow with the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research said Tasmanians should prepare for a big grass pollen season.

“We have already started to see moderate grass pollen counts in Hobart and high counts in Launceston. We can expect grass pollen counts to rise over the next few weeks, as it hits its Tasmanian peak in late November/December,” Dr Jones said.

“We’re also still seeing the last of the European tree pollen which can cause problems for many people with hay fever. So, for people with multiple pollen allergies, the next couple of months might be a particularly difficult time.”

For more information on managing asthma during spring and the pollen season, please visit www.asthma.org.au/about-asthma/live-with-asthma/spring-asthma.