Thunderstorm asthma is thought to be triggered by a unique combination of high grass pollen counts and a certain type of thunderstorm.
For people who have asthma or hay fever this can cause severe asthma symptoms, making it difficult to breath
When a large number of people develop asthma symptoms over a short period of time, this is known as epidemic thunderstorm asthma. These epidemic thunderstorm asthma events don't happen every year but when they do, they can happen during grass pollen season, which is normally from October through December.
A thunderstorm asthma event occurred in Melbourne in November 2016 resulting in a number of fatalities and thousands of people experienced frightening asthma episodes.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for pollen season:
- If you've ever had asthma – talk to your GP about what you can do to help protect yourself from the risk of thunderstorm asthma this pollen season. Remember taking an asthma preventer properly and regularly is key to preventing asthma, including thunderstorm asthma.
- If you experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or continuing coughing then you may have asthma. It’s important you talk to your GP and get it checked out.
- If you have hay fever – see your pharmacist or GP for a hay fever treatment plan and check if you should have an asthma reliever puffer – which is available from a pharmacy without a prescription.
- If you have hay fever, and especially if you experience wheezing and coughing with your hay fever, it is important to make sure you don’t also have asthma. Speak to your GP today about whether or not you might have asthma.
Where possible avoid being outside during thunderstorms from October through December – especially in the wind gusts that come before the storm. Go inside and close your doors and windows. If you have your air conditioning on, turn it onto recirculate.
Find out more about thunderstorm asthma and watch the informative video:
Learn more about thunderstorm asthma
Attend an information session to learn more about thunderstorm asthma at the Monash Family Community Cooperative, 54 Howleys Road Notting Hill on Wednesday, 6 September from 7pm - 8.30pm.
To register: thunderstorm information session