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La Niña Could Be Bad News For Asthma And Allergy Sufferers This Summer

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) is warning asthma and allergy sufferers to be cautious while holidaying this summer as La Niña weather patterns continue to contribute to higher pollen counts.

The combined effect of the warmth, humidity, and wet weather creates optimal growing conditions for pollen-producing weeds, grasses, shrubs, and trees, which release microspores - a common trigger for asthma and allergy sufferers.

Ben Noll, Meteorologist, NIWA says "La Niña is expected to influence a warmer than average but wetter summer for the North Island and upper South Island. Spring has already recorded higher than average temperatures with October being 1.2C above average across New Zealand. It’s likely that these conditions will continue to influence pollen counts as plants continue to thrive."

La Niña is creating similar challenges across the Tasman, with a wet spring leading to record levels of grass pollen. The conditions have also seen the worst hay fever season in more than five years in Canberra, according to the Australian National University, which resulted in state-wide health warnings to be issued.

Up to 80% of asthma is associated with an allergy, with one in eight adults and one in seven children in New Zealand suffering from the disease.

The lack of international travel options also means that record numbers of Kiwis are likely to travel domestically for the upcoming summer holidays.

Letitia Harding, Chief Executive, ARFNZ warns that asthma and allergy sufferers should ensure they have enough non-expired medication for their holiday well before the Christmas break when most medical practices close, and always carry it with them.

"Travelling to different places will expose people to different asthma and allergy triggers that they may not be accustomed to. A summer break doesn’t mean an asthma medication break so don’t get caught out! It’s important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you don’t have symptoms," says Letitia.

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