The ACT Health Directorate is warning of the potential for a thunderstorm asthma event in the ACT region this weekend (17-19 December).
The warning comes as we see elevated pollen levels and the possibility of gusty thunderstorms this weekend, increasing the risk of a thunderstorm asthma event.
Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered by a combination of high grass pollen levels and a particular type of thunderstorm, which causes some people to develop severe asthma symptoms over a short period of time. The risk of thunderstorm asthma may be increased this year with wetter than usual conditions encouraging grass growth and increased stormy weather in our region.
Not all thunderstorms produce an asthma event, and thunderstorm asthma is a rare event.
However, people who suffer from hay fever and/or asthma are encouraged to be vigilant over the weekend for any worsening of their condition. People who have been diagnosed with asthma in the past should also be prepared for a thunderstorm asthma event during the pollen season, particularly if they have suffered or continue to suffer from hay fever. Carry a reliever (blue puffer) with you.
Where possible avoid being outside during a thunderstorm – especially in the wind gusts that come before the storm. Go inside and close your doors and windows. If you have your air conditioning on, you can turn it onto recirculate.
If you develop asthma symptoms, use your reliever (blue puffer) medication, and follow your asthma action plan, if you have one. If you experience asthma symptoms that are not relieved by usual asthma treatment, you should seek further urgent medical advice. In the event of a medical emergency, you should call 000.
This is also a reminder for Canberrans who suffer from asthma and hay fever to see their doctor or pharmacist to make sure their treatment and action plans are up to date during the pollen season. People with asthma and/or hay fever need extra protection to avoid thunderstorm asthma between October and December in the ACT. This means using preventer medicine every day and always having a reliever inhaler (blue puffer) ready. See your doctor to get the best asthma and/or hay fever medication plan.
A useful resource to help Canberrans monitor pollen levels is the free AirRater Smartphone app, which provides users with real-time information on air quality. To download the free AirRater smartphone application: airrater.org/
For more information on managing asthma and hay fever:
For daily levels of grass pollen in the ACT visit the Canberra Pollen Count and Forecast Service: www.canberrapollen.com.au
For further information on current air quality in the ACT visit the ACT Health website: health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/environmental-monitoring/monitoring-and-regulating-air