Thunderstorm Asthma

Thunderstorm asthma can be a serious condition and even affect people who have not previously had asthma. This year’s La’Nina effect has caused a wetter than normal spring, which has resulted in a lot of grass growth and increased the risk of thunderstorm asthma.1, 2

In this article we shed some light on this condition and provide you with a few tips on how to stay safe during this thunderstorm asthma season.

What is thunderstorm asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma is believed to be caused by a combination of higher than usual pollen levels and certain weather conditions that result in large amounts of pollen grains bursting open and releasing tiny particles into the air.  These particles are then breathed in and enter deep into the lungs and can trigger asthma symptoms.1,2

What are the symptoms and who is at risk?

Symptoms of thunderstorm asthma are the same as an acute asthma attack and include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Shortness of breath

Due to the small pollen particles entering deep into the lungs, symptoms of thunderstorm asthma may worsen very quickly3. Thunderstorm asthma can affect people of all ages and even those who have not previously had asthma.  However those at most risk include1,2:

  • Those who experience seasonal hay fever
  • People allergic to ryegrass pollen
  • Those who currently have asthma or have a history of asthma
  • People with undiagnosed asthma or pollen allergy

 

Managing the risks of thunderstorm asthma

It is important to understand if you are at risk of thunderstorm asthma.  If you are not sure, speak with your GP or pharmacist about your asthma, hay fever or allergy history.  If required, you may need a preventor and/or reliever inhaler, as well as an asthma action plan and be familiar with asthma first aid.2

Keep an eye out for weather alerts forecasting thunderstorms, particularly on high or extreme pollen count days.  Avoid exposure to wind gusts that come before or after a storm.  Go indoors and close doors and windows.  If you need to use an airconditioner in your house or car, ensure it is turned to recirculating internal air.1,2

If you experience any of the above listed symptoms, seek urgent medical attention.  If you have trouble breathing call 000 and let them know it is an Asthma Emergency.

If you would like further information about thunderstorm asthma speak to your GP or pharmacist.

References

  1. Thunderstorm Asthma https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/thunderstorm-asthma (accessed 20/12/2021)
  2. Thunderstorm Asthma – be prepared for thunderstorm asthma season https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/triggers/thunderstorm-asthma (accessed 20/12/2021)
  3. Thunderstorm Asthma https://www.australiawidefirstaid.com.au/thunderstorm-asthma (accessed 20/12/2021)


Already have an asthma action plan and need a repeat prescription for your asthma medication?

With SiSU Health’s new online prescription renewal service Scripts Now you can order online to have your medication delivered to your door or alternatively place your order in-store through participating Priceline Pharmacy Health Stations to collect in-store.