Prepare for thunderstorm asthma before it strikes: Ballarat experts

Ballarat healthcare professionals are urging people to take preventative measures now with conditions shaping up for another strong likelihood of thunderstorm asthma striking. Picture: Kate Healy
Ballarat healthcare professionals are urging people to take preventative measures now with conditions shaping up for another strong likelihood of thunderstorm asthma striking. Picture: Kate Healy

ASTHMATICS and people who experience bad hay fever are urged to take precautionary measures now before thunderstorm asthma strikes.

Ballarat healthcare professionals are warning of the strong likelihood for another hit of the epidemic, which prompted an emergency disaster response across the state in November last year.

UFS pharmacist Peter Fell said this spring and summer has been flagged for concern with a dry winter set to create a high pollen count.

Thunderstorm asthma inflicts asthma symptoms during or immediately following a thunderstorm.

Pollen grains absorb moisture during storms and burst into hundreds of tiny allergenic fragments which penetrate deep into airways.

Mr Fell said those most at-risk were asthmatics and people with allergic rhinitis, a severe type of hay fever.

“People need to make sure their condition is under control or well-controlled, and that they have the appropriate tools at hand in case their condition deteriorates,” Mr Fell said.

“Talk to your pharmacist, talk to your doctor.”

Ditchy's Day

Ditchy's Day

Mr Fell said people with asthma must ensure: they are taking preventative medication reliably and their condition was stable; those who were not managing their asthma well should check in with their general practitioner; make sure they had easy access to in-date reliever puffers; and, know your asthma plan.

He also suggested have a spacer handy, to more efficiently relieve symptoms, and that there were handy ones that could easily be tucked into a bag.

There were at least nine deaths from last season’s thunderstorm asthma.

Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital emergency department had all-but-run out of ventolin amid the initial outbreak, calling on pharmacies across the city to help boost supply.

The Base ED also averaged four ambulance arrivals per hour, between 6pm and 10pm, with patients presenting breathing difficulties amid the November storm.

Mr Fell said preventative sprays and plans helped people be far less reactive to triggers.

EQUIPPED: UFS pharmacist Peter Fell urges people to have preventations in place ahead of likely thunderstorm asthma conditions. Picture: Kate Healy

EQUIPPED: UFS pharmacist Peter Fell urges people to have preventations in place ahead of likely thunderstorm asthma conditions. Picture: Kate Healy