Renewed health call to be prepared in calm before thunderstorm asthma

LEADING health bodies have re-issued a warning for everyone to be prepared in the calm before a thunderstorm.

Video: Better Health Channel

Ballarat Community Health and Asthma Foundation Victoria are delivering free information sessions on Monday, in the midst of the high-risk season for thunderstorm asthma.

Sessions come in a stepped-up effort across the health sector for a readied response and proactive prevention after a thunderstorm asthma epidemic took emergency responders by surprise last November.

BCH’s health promotion manager Louise Feery said the sessions were particularly important for people who have asthma or who experience hayfever, and their families, to ensure they understood warning signs and how to best respond.

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 and make it hard for people to breathe.

Those most at-risk are asthmatics and people with allergic rhinitis, a severe type of hay fever.

There were at least nine deaths across the state from last year’s epidemic.

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. 

Victoria’s health department is leading a proactive education and preparation approach to prevent another thunderstorm asthma outbreak on the same scale as last year.

Free thunderstorm sessions will run at BCH in Lucas on Monday, from 3.30pm and 6pm.