Asthma Australia is urging people with asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis) living in the Wimmera District and surrounds to be on high alert following an Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma warning issued for Thursday 10 November by the Victorian Chief Health Officer.
Avoid exposure by staying inside with windows and doors closed before, during and after the storm has passed and have asthma reliever medication on hand.
Local Government Areas in the Mallee and Wimmera District include:
- Shire of Buloke
- Shire of Hindmarsh
- Rural City of Horsham
- Shire of Northern Grampians
- Shire of West Wimmera
- Shire of Yarriambiack
- Buloke Shire
- Campaspe Shire
- Central Goldfields Shire
- City of Greater Bendigo
- Gannawarra Shire
- Loddon Shire
- Macedon Ranges Shire
- Mildura Rural City
People at risk of an acute asthma flare-up or attack triggered by a thunderstorm include those with seasonal hay fever (with or without known asthma), asthma, a history of asthma and adults who are sensitive and have allergies to grass pollen.
Symptoms may feel like:
- Sudden breathlessness
- Tight chest
- Inability to speak in full sentences
- For Children – fatigue, irritability, complaining of a sore tummy, sucking in movements around chest and throat when breathing
Symptoms can come on rapidly and must be treated immediately with an asthma reliever puffer.
DO NOT IGNORE SYMPTOMS.
An Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma event can result in a large number of people experiencing breathing difficulties who could escalate to severe respiratory arrest (asthma attacks) and fatality.
To treat asthma symptoms, start Asthma First Aid immediately and call Triple Zero (000) for help if symptoms do not get any better or if they start to get worse.
Asthma First Aid for blue/grey reliever medication
- Sit the person upright
- Give 4 separate puffs of a blue/grey reliever puffer.
- Wait 4 minutes
- If no improvement call Triple Zero (000)
- Continue to give 4 separate puffs of a blue/grey reliever puffer every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives
If your reliever is not a blue/grey puffer style, see our Asthma First Aid chart here
- 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) for asthma education and support.
- National Home Doctor Service 13 SICK (13 74 25) for after-hours home doctor visits (bulked billed)
- To speak to a registered nurse, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222*(this is an Australian wide 24-hour triage)
- If you are unable to access a General Practitioner, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) available 24hrs 7 days. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/13health (available in QLD only)
- In an emergency, always call Triple Zero (000)
Thunderstorm asthma events are triggered by an uncommon combination of high grass pollen levels and a certain type of thunderstorm, causing pollen grains from grasses to be swept up in the wind and carried long distances.
Some pollens can burst open and release tiny particles that are concentrated in the wind just before the thunderstorm. These small particles can get deep into the airways and trigger asthma symptoms.
If you would like to learn more about Thunderstorm asthma, asthma management and how to keep asthma under control in unexpected weather events, call 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or visit asthma.org.au/about-