Thunderstorm asthma can be a real problem in spring and early summer.
It is caused when grass pollen grains in the air are drawn up into the clouds of a thunderstorm. They absorb water, swell and burst, creating tiny pollen fragments that swirl through the air and are easily breathed into people’s lungs.
Thunderstorm asthma most often happens during the strong winds that blow just before the rain actually starts.
It can be so bad it can even affect people who have never had asthma before. But it is most likely to affect those who are currently asthmatic or have had asthma before, as well as people who tend to get hay fever or are allergic to rye grass pollen.
The most common symptoms of thunderstorm asthma include shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, wheezing when you breathe and sometimes persistent coughing.
You can take some steps to prevent or reduce the risk of Thunderstorm Asthma on windy, thunderstorm days. The first is making sure you have your reliever medication with you. Try to stay inside during these times and keep your doors and windows closed. Being inside a building or even a car can help reduce the risk. If you do have air-conditioning make sure you set it to recirculate the air, not let fresh air come in from outside. Many filters and even face masks do not prevent the tiny pollen fragments from getting through.
If you do find yourself outside when the conditions are ripe for Thunderstorm Asthma and you start experiencing symptoms, take immediate action.
The first action always is to use your asthma reliever inhaler as per the usual instructions. (This is what most people would call a “puffer”.)
If you have hay fever prevention medication and would normally take it during an attack then do so.
If your breathing problems are severe or get worse, don’t delay. Call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Tell them it’s a “Thunderstorm Asthma Emergency”. If you don’t have your inhaler with you, you must call 000 quickly as your symptoms could get worse fast.
If you are with someone who is experiencing Thunderstorm Asthma, try to sit them upright, keep them calm and reassured and, most importantly, stay with them till the ambulance arrives.
To get more, proper First Aid Training for Asthma and other conditions, call us on 1300 661 065.