A man in profile holds an asthma reliever close to his mouth.

If you are one of the Australians with asthma, respiratory problems or hay fever, then Spring thunderstorm season can be a concern. We write about ways to be alert for Thunderstorm Asthma Events.

Thunderstorm Asthma events are thought to be triggered by a combination of high grass pollen levels and thunderstorms. Some pollens can swell and burst. They then release tiny particles concentrated in the wind before the thunderstorm. The particles are so small they are breathed into the lungs. These tiny particles get deep into the airways and can trigger asthma symptoms.

Thunderstorm  Asthma can occur in the windy period before a storm develops.

The DHHS suggests a greater risk of an Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma event occurring this year. This is due to a wet spring promoting grass growth. 

The risk of thunderstorm asthma is highest in adults who are sensitive to grass pollens and have hay fever (with or without known asthma). 

Symptoms

If you have thunderstorm asthma, a thunderstorm might trigger one or more of these symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in your chest
  • wheezing when you breathe
  • persistent coughing

The symptoms of thunderstorm asthma can get worse very quickly. If breathing becomes difficult, seek treatment immediately.

Remember, in the case of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Say it is an Asthma emergency.

 

Planning 

It is a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to review your asthma and allergy management plans each season.

Take your preventative medication regulkarly and carry your reliever with you.

Asthma Australia has developed apps to assist people with asthma and their carers. Learn more about each app here.

Registering for local alerts can help you prepare for a thunderstorm asthma event. See below for more information.

 

A woman holds a spacer and asthma reliver to her mouth.

 

Information for your state and Territory

ACT

Canberra Pollen App has daily grass pollen counts and forecasts in spring and summer.

Also available for the ACT, you can download AirRater or Auspollen.

NSW

Wagga Wagga and district is prone to spring-time thunderstorm-triggered asthma. This is related to elevated levels of airborne grass-pollens from crops across the Riverina in combination with pending thunderstorm activity.

Charles Sturt University and the Wagga Asthma and Collaborative of Health Professionals, have established an SMS notification and email notification system.  You can register for alerts on days during spring that are high risk for thunderstorm triggered asthma. You can learn about the service here.

To register for the Wagga Wagga and district alerts

  • Text/SMS the word asthma to 0417 115 876 to receive SMS alerts
  • Email the word asthma (in the subject line or email body) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive email alerts

Sydney

Sydney pollen count and forecast app

For Sydney, download the AusPollen app. Select your local pollen station and then scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.

QLD

For Queensland, download the AusPollen app. Select your local pollen station and then scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.

SA

For Adelaide, download the AusPollen app. Select your local pollen station and then scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.

TAS

For Tasmania, download the AirRater app.

For Tasmania, you can also download the AusPollen app. Select your local pollen station and then scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.

VIC

Health.vic have maps of risk forecasts each day.

Epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasts will be available throughout the Victorian grass pollen season on the VicEmergency website and app. To check the forecast, visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare.

Melbourne Pollen Count and Forecast – You can also check for Alerts on Vic Emergency.

Also download AusPollen. Select your local pollen station and then scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the Apple or Google Play app stores.

 

Remember, in the case of an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Say it is an Asthma emergency.


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