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Thunderstorm Asthma

Posted on 30 November 2016

First of all, what is Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm Asthma

The humid weather change causes pollen, most likely from rye grass, to burst into tiny particles that are able to be inhaled through the nose and enter the lungs. This doesn't occur with every thunderstorm but the likelihood increases and that together with change in humidity will strongly affect people with breathing difficulties. 

This thunderstorm in Melbourne a week ago served as a wake up call to many with asthma and other respiratory problems. Even those with strong hayfever were affected and some reacted with asthma like symptoms which they were not prepared for. Whenever such a change in weather is predicted it is important that you are prepared, stay indoors if possible and have your inhaler handy.

Ventolin inhalers have an expiry date; therefore you must be diligent and make sure that the inhaler you carry has not expired. 

Everyone with asthma knows that it is serious 'business' and if not careful can lead to deadly outcomes. 

The thunderstorm last Monday created an overwhelming demand on our hospital and ambulance system, even some pharmacies have run out of Ventolin. What happened on that day is a not a frequent event and it required several factors to come together to create it, unfortunately resulting in the loss of eight people (at the time of writing the article one person is still in critical condition).

Make sure to:

  • Always carry your inhaler with you.
  • Stay indoors during storms (especially if conditions are humid).
  • Let others know you have asthma.


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