Grass pollen season brings a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis). It also brings the chance of epidemic thunderstorm asthma. Thunderstorm asthma can affect those with asthma or seasonal hay fever. Having both asthma and seasonal hay fever and poorly managed asthma increases the risk further.
The best way that those at risk can protect themselves, is to have good control of their asthma and hay fever by having an up-to-date asthma action plan or hay fever treatment plan, learning asthma first aid and avoiding storms during the grass pollen season, including the wind gusts that precede them.
Hay fever and asthma can produce symptoms that are similar to COVID-19, such as a runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. While good management can help prevent these, it is critical to get tested for coronavirus if these are different to your usual symptoms.
MANAGE YOUR RISK OF THUNDERSTORM ASTHMA
- Understand the issue
- Talk to your doctor about the need for inhaled preventer medicine and appropriate treatment for your allergies, including hay fever.
- Have a written Asthma Action Plan (where advised by your doctor) and/or have practical knowledge of the 4 steps of
Asthma First Aid
- Have reliever medication available in grass pollen season and be aware of how to use it (ideally with a spacer)
- Be alert to and act on the development of asthma symptoms as explained in your written Asthma Action Plan if you have one, or if you don’t, use Asthma First Aid
- Be aware of thunderstorm forecasts particularly on HIGH or EXTREME pollen count days where possible avoid being outside during thunderstorms during the grass pollen season – especially in the wind gusts that come before the storm. Go inside and close your doors and windows and if you have your air conditioner on, turn it to recirculate. For thunderstorm asthma forecasts and alerts in Victoria go to the Vic Emergency website.
- Never ignore asthma symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing and tightness in the chest. Start Asthma First Aid immediately and call Triple Zero (000) for help if symptoms do not get any better or if they start to get worse.
More than ever before, this year it is important to manage any hay fever or asthma symptoms. We encourage all our patients with asthma to see your GP to develop or review your asthma action plan and make sure any associated hay fever is well managed.