Thunderstorm Asthma, triggered by freak weather conditions is something everyone should be aware of.

As we move into grass pollen season, in Victoria this is usually from 1st October through 31st December, many people experience the onset of  allergies and hay fever.

Thunderstorm asthma is thought to be triggered by a unique combination of high grass pollen levels, high humidity and a thunderstorm combined with strong winds.

During the thunderstorm, pollen grains absorb moisture and then burst into smaller fragments which can be dispersed by the wind. Whilst larger pollen grains can usually be filtered by the hairs in the nose, the smaller ones are able to pass through, enter the lungs and cause breathing difficulty and a possible asthma attack.

Data shows those at risk are adults who react to grass pollen seasonally, whether they currently have asthma or not. Very high at risk are people with poorly controlled asthma.

Whilst epidemic thunderstorm asthma events don’t happen every year, when they does,things need to be taken seriously.  A November 2016 storm resulted in a large number of people developing asthma symptoms over a short period of time.  The outbreak overwhelmed the emergency system and hospitals.

This led to the Victorian government launching a public health campaign to ensure that all Victorians, and in particular people with asthma and/or hay fever, are as prepared as they can be.

Detailed information is available on the Better Health Channel  or on the health.vic website. 

What you need to do

If you are asthmatic:

  • visit your doctor to review your current medication
  • update your asthma action plan/hay fever treatment plan
  • learn asthma first aid and ensure those closest to you know what to do in an emergency

The Australian Asthma Handbook and a dedicated information paper on thunderstorm asthma is available from the National Asthma Council website.

The epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast is issued throughout the grass pollen season.

You can access the forecast via the VicEmergency website or app, the Health.Vic website or the Melbourne Pollen website or app.

If you have further questions on asthma or hay fever please ask your doctor.


Disclaimer: This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with a GP. Links to other (“third party”) websites are pro­vided solely as a con­ve­nience and not as a guar­an­tee or rec­om­men­da­tion by Park Street General Practice for the ser­vices, infor­ma­tion, opin­ion or any other con­tent on such third party websites or as an indi­ca­tion of any affil­i­a­tion, spon­sor­ship or endorse­ment of such third party websites.

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