Goulburn Valley Public Health Unit clinical director Dr Will Cross said it was important asthma sufferers and people with breathing problems planned ahead for the start of thunderstorm asthma season on October 1.
“If you have asthma, or suffer from seasonal asthma, make sure you have an up-to-date asthma action plan and are proactively managing your symptoms with advice from your general practitioner,” he said.
“Anyone with diagnosed asthma or seasonal asthma should ensure they have adequate stock of medication and carry their asthma medication with them at all times during this high-risk season.”
Thunderstorm asthma is a weather-related phenomenon that primarily occurs during spring but can extend into December, coinciding with the grass pollen season.
During a thunderstorm asthma event, tiny pollen grains from grasses are swept up into the wind and carried over long distances.
When these airborne pollen particles are inhaled, they can penetrate deep into the lungs, triggering asthma flare-ups or attacks.
People are at higher risk of experiencing a sudden asthma flare-up triggered by a thunderstorm if they:
• Experience seasonal hay fever.
• Have current asthma.
• Have a history of asthma.
• Have undiagnosed asthma.
To reduce the risk of thunderstorm asthma when it is a known trigger, the GVPHU strongly recommends maintaining good asthma management year-round.
Here are some essential steps to take:
1. Use preventative medication: If you have been prescribed a preventer inhaler, make sure to use it as directed, especially during the spring thunderstorm season.
2. Keep hay fever under control: Consult with your healthcare provider to manage your seasonal hay fever effectively, as this can exacerbate your asthma during thunderstorm events.
3. Keep up to date with pollen levels: Keep an eye on pollen level forecasts, which can be found through the VicEmergency website and app from October 1.
If possible, try to stay indoors on days when pollen levels are high.
4. Be Prepared: Make sure you have all the necessary medications and tools to manage your asthma and hay fever during thunderstorm and pollen seasons.
This includes having your asthma action plan up to date and inhalers, antihistamines and other prescribed medications readily available.
Thunderstorm asthma can be severe and it’s crucial that everyone takes proactive measures to protect themselves.