Thunderstorm asthma season is upon us once again, with hay fever sufferers in particular warned to be prepared.
People are being warned to guard against the potentially fatal condition, which can strike any time from late spring to early summer.
Ten Victorians died from thunderstorm asthma in November 2016, and 1400 were hospitalised.
Emergency services labelled the influx an epidemic and struggled to keep on top of the calls for help.
While a high pollen count is not ordinarily dangerous, a thunderstorm can make it deadly.
When the rain hits, airborne grains of pollen absorb the moisture until they burst, releasing smaller particles. These penetrate deep into the lungs, triggering asthma.
“We know that half the people that presented in the severe thunderstorm epidemic [in 2016] had never suffered from asthma before,” Epworth healthcare respiratory Dr Michael Sutherland told the Today show
“The main symptoms are wheeze, tightness, shortness of breath and cough, and about 20-percent of people have hay fever in Australia so they’re the ones that are at risk of thunderstorm asthma,” said Dr Sutherland.
Hay fever sufferers are being urged to see their doctor for preventative measures.
“Get a blue reliever puffer like Ventolin, which you can buy over the counter and take four puffs, which will open the airways. If it’s not relieved, you need to call the ambulance and go to hospital,” warned Dr Sutherland.
It is believed the drought could help lessen the risks this season, as thunderstorm asthma relies on grass pollen of which there is less of this year.
But professionals say that’s not a reason to be complacent.
“There will be less grass pollen, but as we all know, you cannot predict the weather and everyone needs to be prepared,” said Dr Sutherland.
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