Up to 80% of people with asthma may have winter hay fever, which is regularly mistaken for the common cold. This could increase the risk of an asthma attack, according to Asthma UK.
The charity said that the symptoms of the common cold are very similar to those of winter hay fever, such as a runny or blocked nose and sneezing. As levels of tree pollen begin to rise, those who have an allergy may be more susceptible to asthma attacks.
Being allergic to pollen is a known risk factor for asthma attacks so the charity is urging those who may have winter hay fever to keep an eye on their symptoms to reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, says: 'Asthma attacks rarely appear from out of the blue, yet far too often people with asthma do not recognise the warning signs of a serious asthma attack, even though tragically two thirds of deaths from asthma attacks can be prevented with better basic care.
'The warning signs of an asthma attack can start to come on two to three days beforehand so they can potentially be prevented. If anyone with asthma finds their symptoms are changing or they are wheezing, waking at night, coughing or need to use their reliever inhaler more than usual this is a wake-up call that they could be at risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack and need to take action.'
Asthma UK has created an online checklist, which includes advice such as using a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy anti-histamine tablets as needed and carrying a reliever inhaler at all times in case of an attack.
The pollen season can start as early as January and finish as late as November (tree pollen from January to May; grass pollen from May to July; weed pollen from June to November).