Staying on track with asthma

GIVEN that 2012 will see a variety of major sporting events — the Olympics, Euro 2012 — many people with asthma will feel like they can only look on as others participate in sport.

But many Irish men, including Ireland defender John O’Shea, Ireland rugby player Ronan O’Gara, and Derry City midfielder Ruairdhi Higgins all live, train and compete with asthma. More than 470,000 people live with asthma across the country.

So does Olympic hopeful Brian Gregan, 22, who won a silver medal in the 400 metres at the 2011 European Under 23 Championships. Representing Dublin City University, where he studies sports science, he finished fifth at the World University Games in China in August 2011.

“I first noticed my asthma when I was at a training camp in Portugal when I was 16 or 17,” says Brian. “I was short of breath and was assessed after blowing into the peak flow meter. It’s completely under control now, but it’s really important that I take the medication daily. I use an inhaler in the morning and evening and before training. And I make sure I have spare inhalers with me.”

Nasal surgery in 2011 helped to free up his nasal passageways and provide extra relief.

“That made a big difference to me, as does warming up and cooling down properly.”

But even with all his precautions, Brian is still susceptible to asthma attacks. “Last year at the European indoor championships I had an attack after the race. It was really bad, I was wheezing, I just couldn’t breathe. Luckily, there was a doctor on hand. That’s why, for any adult or child playing a sport, it’s really important that you tell the coach that you have asthma, that you have your inhaler and that your coach has contact details of a parent if needs be.”

Brian is speaking about his asthma, not just to encourage people with asthma to exercise, but to support the Asthma Society’s National Awareness and Fundraising Campaign that will focus on exercise, sport and fitness. The society is calling on people with asthma, their families and members of the public to organise sporting-themed fundraising events throughout the country during the year. The Society has to raise €160,000 this year to maintain vital services, including its busy helpline, which is relied on particularly by parents of children and young people. ¦ To speak to an asthma nurse about how to control your asthma while exercising, call the Asthma Helpline on 1850-445464, Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm.

Manual handling cause of third of work injuries

Manual handling is one of the biggest causes of injury in the workplace, according to the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) Statistics Summary for 2009 — 2010.

One in three injuries in 2010 were from manual handling, keeping the injured out of work for three days or more.

The HSA has published manual-handling guides and produced online video case studies. In retail, workers are particularly vulnerable to back injury.

“We recognise that time and resources are precious in the workplace, but there is no point in waiting until an accident has happened, by then it’s too late,” says Frank Power, Health and Safety Authority inspector. “I would encourage employers to consult with their employees, and together they can come up with solutions that are effective in reducing or avoiding the risk.” Manual-handling video case studies and sector specific guides are free from

Fifth of men binge drinking regularly

Keep an eye on your drinking this weekend — males are more likely than females to binge drink, with one in five male drinkers (18%) reaching or exceeding the recommended daily limits on three or more days that week, compared to 16% of female drinkers.

That’s according to the recently published Adult Drinking Patterns Survey in Northern Ireland 2011, which was conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Based on respondents who drank alcohol in the week prior to the survey, it was revealed that most drinking occurs over the weekend and peaks on Saturdays. The most common drinks consumed were wine (48%) and beer (47%). Most of those who drank in the week prior to the survey had either consumed alcohol at home (64%), in the pub (20%), or at someone else’s home (20%).

Did you know...

Working age men across Europe have a higher mortality rate compared with their female working counterparts

(Source: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)


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