Health experts are using National Asthma Week (September 1-7) to warn those with asthma to plan ahead for unexpected weather changes that may impact on their health.
Thunderstorm asthma is a key issue of the 2017 awareness week, which comes nearly a year after Melbourne’s deadly asthma outbreak.
Last year, nine people died of asthma and thousands of others suffered respiratory symptoms when a series of storms carrying ryegrass pollens swept through Melbourne.
NSW Health environmental health director Dr Ben Scalley said people with asthma needed to be on alert, because pollen at this time of the year can make asthma symptoms worse.
“While Sydney hasn’t had a major event like Melbourne, thunderstorm asthma events have been significant in other parts of NSW in recent years, including Wagga Wagga,” he said.
“If you have asthma, spring is an important time to make sure you have an asthma action plan and are proactively managing your symptoms.
“It’s also important for people to know asthma first aid, so they can help family and friends when they need it.”
The four steps to remember are:
- Sit the person upright
- Give four separate puffs from their reliever puffer
- Wait four minutes. If there’s no improvement, give four more puffs
- If there’s still no improvement, dial 000.
“For those who suffer from hay-fever, and sneeze or wheeze their way through spring, get checked by your doctor to ensure you don’t actually have asthma,” Dr Scalley said.
“If so they can develop a plan for you to manage the symptoms; these people are more likely to be affected by thunderstorm conditions, and the higher pollen counts found at this time of year.”
Each year, approximately 10,000 people are admitted to NSW hospitals for treatment of asthma.
Around one in nine adults and one in eight children has asthma in NSW.