In a previous article we talked about Thunderstorm Asthma, what it is and how you can best prepare for the effects. Whilst epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma doesn’t happen often, from October through to December, it can be quite severe. This year, following good winter rain down south, it’s anticipated there will be an abundance of grass pollen, heightening the risk.
Prone to Southern states, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton urges people to be prepared and said in a recent media release – Victoria’s epidemic thunderstorm asthma risk forecasting system is now switched on, providing its first forecast of the season, which will run until the end of December. Dr. Sutton also stating, ‘the best way to protect yourself from thunderstorm asthma and grass pollen is through good management of asthma and hay fever’.
This time of year (spring) we hear a lot about pollen and hay fever, and whilst these are still very much a trigger for asthma, it is the strong winds that come with thunderstorms which cause grass pollen to be swept up in the wind and carried long distances, causing the pollen to burst open and release tiny concentrated particles in the wind just before the thunderstorm hits. These small particles get further into the airways and can trigger severe asthma symptoms.
Some symptoms you may experience
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tight in the chest
- Experiencing persistent coughing
Even if you don’t think you have asthma, don’t ignore symptoms. Asthma affects 2.7 million Australians, and about 80 per cent of people with asthma also have seasonal hay fever.
There are many resources available to you if you find you are affected by thunderstorm asthma;
- You can follow our Asthma Emergency steps
- Access up-to-date pollen levels in each state, by visiting Victoria, QLD, ACT and NSW AusPollen website or app, Tasmania and ACT: AirRater website or app and now a new SA pollen count via our website brought to you by University of Adelaide and Aus Pollen.
Learn more about asthma triggers by contacting 1800 Asthma and in a medical emergency dial Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. The most important thing is to listen to the Triple Zero (000) call taker – they will talk you through everything you need to do.