Thunderstorm asthma

The thunderstorm of Monday, 21 November 2016 triggered an unprecedented thunderstorm asthma event in metropolitan Melbourne and Geelong. It caused significant demand on both Ambulance Victoria and hospital emergency departments and sadly may have contributed to nine lives being lost.

Epidemic thunderstorm asthma events can happen during the grass pollen season from October through December. During this period, grass pollen grains swept up in the wind can burst open and release tiny particles. Breathing these tiny particles can cause asthma symptoms.

Will I be affected by it?

Thunderstorm asthma can affect anyone, even if they do not have a history of asthma. Watch out for these symptoms

  1. Persistent coughing
  2. Breathlessness
  3. Wheezing
  4. Tightness in the chest

What if I experience an asthma attack?

Follow the 4 steps of asthma first aid if you have a blue/grey reliever puffer:

  1. Sit upright
  2. Take 4 separate puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer
  3. Wait 4 minutes. Repeat one more time if no improvement
  4. Call Triple Zero (000) for help if still no improvement

If you do not have a blue/grey reliever puffer, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

How can I stay informed?

Visit the VicEmergency website or download the VicEmergency app for forecasts on the risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma.