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Asthma and extreme weather

Australia is prone to extreme weather events such as bush fires, heatwaves, dust storms and flooding. Breathe better in extreme weather. Follow our tips to ensure your asthma is well controlled and stay safe during extreme weather events.

Breathe better in extreme weather by:

  1. Taking your preventer medication every day when well. Preventer medication can take time to take effect, so it’s important to take the preventative step of regularly taking your preventer medication.
  2. Ensuring you have in date reliever mediation and keep this on hand.
  3. Following your written Asthma Action Plan. If you don’t have a written Asthma Action Plan, visit your doctor to have one completed.
  4. Knowing the four steps for asthma first aid and what to do in an asthma emergency https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/national/about-asthma/asthma-emergency
  5. Where possible during extreme weather events, staying indoors with windows closed and avoiding exercise
  6. Keeping up to date with emergency service alerts and advice in your local area

If you experience any asthma symptoms and these persist seek medical care or in an emergency call 000 (Triple zero).

If you would like to learn more about asthma management and how to breathe better in unexpected weather events, call the 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462).

In the event that a State of Emergency is declared which has the potential to impact people with asthma or where they might be displaced and without their life saving medication, Asthma Australia in partnership with GSK and the Australian Pharmacy Guild, will work to distribute blue reliever medication to people with asthma impacted by the event.

Extreme weather triggers

Everyone’s asthma is different, and everyone has different triggers. It’s important you know and understand your triggers to stay safe in extreme weather. Extreme weather triggers include: 

Smoke and poor air quality

Smoke from vegetation fires is a common trigger for asthma, it can cause asthma exacerbations (known as ‘flare ups’) and it is associated with increased emergency department visits and hospital admissions. 

Portable air cleaners which use high efficiency particulate air filters can be useful to provide an area of clean air in a sealed room of your home in case of penetration of smoke.  Click here to read more.

 

Heat waves and dust

Australia’s climate is generally hot, dry and prone to drought. This means in summer months and dry seasons we can experience high temperatures and a risk of dust storms. Dust is a common trigger for asthma. Hot weather can also trigger asthma symptoms in some people although the cause is not fully understood.

Pollen 

For many people in Australia with asthma or hay fever, August to March (or the dry season in tropical areas) is a difficult time. At this time of year there is often an increased amount of pollen in the air which can trigger asthma.

During pollen season, there is also a chance of a thunderstorm asthma event. Thunderstorm asthma events are uncommon and thought to be triggered by an uncommon combination of high grass pollen levels and a certain type of thunderstorm.

If you experience regular hay fever symptoms or your asthma is triggered by pollen, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about medications to help you manage these and reduce your risk.

During high pollen or a forecast risk of thunderstorm asthma, remain inside with the doors and windows closed if feasible, particularly during wind gusts before a storm. Click here to read more.

Storms and flooding

Storm and flooding can cause significant damage, impacting on families, homes and entire communities. Impacts of water damage can be experienced after flooding as water damage can lead to mould growth. Mould can worsen a range of respiratory disorders, including asthma.

After flood damage it is important to minimise potential for mould growth. The key to preventing mould growth is to clean up and dry out the house or building within 24-48 hours of flooding. If possible, leave the responsibility of drying and cleaning to someone that doesn’t have asthma. Click here to read more. 

Emergency service contacts 

During unexpected extreme weather events it’s important to keep up to date with emergency service alerts and advice in your local area. 

Qld: https://www.qld.gov.au/emergency

NSW: https://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/

Vic: https://emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/

ACT: http://esa.act.gov.au/

Tas: https://www.ses.tas.gov.au/ 

SA: https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/emergencies-and-safety/emergency-services

WA: https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/

NT: https://www.pfes.nt.gov.au/Emergency-Service.aspx

 

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This website is a collaboration between Asthma Australia and Asthma Foundations ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, VIC, WA, TAS and SA