If you're heading off to a festival this summer don't forget to pack your asthma inhalers as well as your wellies. You may find you're exposed to more of your asthma triggers than usual, whether it's the smoke from fires, barbecues and cigarettes, a high pollen count, or the threat of a thunderstorm.
You can't control the weather, or the pollen count. And it's not always easy to avoid people smoking around you, or having barbecues and bonfires. But you can make sure you're managing your asthma well every day.
Taking your preventer medicine every day as prescribed, even if you feel well, cuts down the inflammation in your airways. And because your airways are less inflamed, you're less likely to react to any triggers you come across.
Here's how you can stop asthma symptoms spoiling your festival season.
Before you go
- Make sure you're using a written asthma action plan. If you don't have one yet, you can find out more here and download one.
- Try to fit in a GP appointment, especially if you've been having symptoms, or you're due for an annual review. Remember, if you've been using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week you're more at risk of an asthma attack, so see your GP. You can go through your written asthma action plan, ask them to take a look at your inhaler technique, and check you're on the right medicines for you.
- Check your inhalers aren't about to run out. If you do this a couple of weeks before you go away you'll have time to get a new prescription if you need one.
- Hay fever can make asthma symptoms worse, so if you're affected by pollen, don't forget to pack your anti-histamines.
- Take a photo of your written asthma action plan so you know what to do if your symptoms get worse or you have an asthma attack while you're away.
- Choose a friend to be your festival 'asthma buddy'. Tell them about your asthma and how it affects you. Let them know how they can help you if you're struggling to breathe. You could forward them a photo of your asthma action plan so they know what to do if you have symptoms or an asthma attack.
When you get there
- Keep your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you all the time, in case you start to get symptoms. Make sure you've got clothes with pockets, or a bag you can easily carry it in.
- Remember your preventer routine. This will stop symptoms spoiling your festival. Try keeping your preventer inhaler (usually brown) right next to your sleeping bag, in a wash bag for example, to help you remember to take it.
- If you need to take a steriod nasal spray for hay fever, remember to take it daily according to the instructions to avoid annoying hay fever symptoms.
- There's not much privacy when you're camping at a festival, but don't be embarrassed to use your inhaler in front of your friends. The most important thing is that you're lowering your risk of asthma symptoms, and an asthma attack.
- Watch what you're drinking. Asthma symptoms can be triggered by substances called histamine and sulphites found in some alcoholic drinks.
- Know the facts about asthma and recreational drugs. Drugs can trigger symptoms and their effects can be unpredictable.
In case of asthma emergencies
- Check where the first aid tents are on the festival site. Take your asthma buddy with you so they can quickly fetch a medic if you need help.
- Make sure your asthma buddy and other friends know where your reliever inhaler is in case they need to grab it for you in an emergency. And let them know what to do if you have an asthma attack.
- Don't hold back from getting help if you think your symptoms are getting worse - it's far better to get checked out than to end up having an asthma attack.
Last updated September 2019
Next review due September 2022