Thousands at risk of an asthma attack at Glastonbury

24 June 2016

With pollen levels set to rise to ‘very high’ over the weekend at the Glastonbury Festival, Asthma UK is warning people with asthma ­- and other respiratory conditions – to be prepared so they can stay safe and enjoy themselves.

Of the 5.4m people in the UK who have asthma, up to 80% also have hay fever, which puts them at increased risk of asthma symptoms or a potentially fatal asthma attack because the body’s allergic reaction to pollen can trigger symptoms. 

Data from the charity Festival Medical Services indicates that of the 175,000 people that attend Glastonbury, approximately 130 people are treated for respiratory issues every year¹. As 1 in 11 people have asthma in the UK, 15,909 people who are attending the event are likely to have asthma. Just a few simple steps could dramatically reduce their chances of getting asthma symptoms or having a life threatening asthma attack.

People with asthma at festivals are exposed to pollen, air pollution, smoke from fires, barbeques and cigarettes which can all make asthma symptoms worse. Thunderstorms can also trigger asthma attacks for people with asthma who also have hay fever, because they break pollen particles into smaller pieces that travel more deeply into the airways.

Colette Harris, Head of Health Advice at Asthma UK, says: “Traditionally the peak in the pollen season tends to coincide with the last week in June every year and the levels are already very high at Glastonbury. Whilst it’s impossible to avoid grass and other pollens, if you are taking the right preventer medicines at the right dose then you should be able to manage day-to-day without getting any asthma symptoms. If you are wheezing, coughing, waking at night or feel tightness in your chest, use your reliever inhaler for on-the-spot relief, then speak to someone at the medical facilities situated all around the Glastonbury Festival site.”

 Asthma UK’s top festival survival tips

  • Carry your reliever inhaler at all times, in case your symtoms get worse and you need on-the-spot relief
  • Take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, to reduce the inflammation and sensitivity in your airways and keep it low. This makes them less likely to react to festival triggers.
  • Choose your alcohol wisely. Some kinds of alcohol can make asthma worse. Clear spirits like gin and vodka are better options as they’re very low in histamines and sulphites which can trigger asthma symptoms. White wine and cider tend to have high levels of sulphites, while red wine and some beers have high levels of histamine.
  • Know the signs that your asthma is getting worse and what to do if you do have an attack; it’s also worth making sure your friends know what to do too.

People with asthma who are planning to go to a festival later in the year can visit: for information and simple preparation tips that will help them stay safe and enjoy their experience.


Notes to editors:

[1] Health data from Glastonbury Festival provided by Festival Medical Services. All respiratory presentations (includes asthma):

2014: 89
2013: 26 
2011: 122
2010: N/R
2009: N/R
2008: N/R
2007: 111
2005: 196
2004: 100
2003: 116
2002: 166
2000: 184
1999: 221

For more information please contact the Asthma UK media team on, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).

About Asthma UK

  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.
  • Asthma UK is solely funded by public donations
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
  • For more information about asthma please visit