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People with asthma warned to be prepared in stormy weather 

Asthma Australia is warning people with asthma to be prepared after severe weather conditions in Melbourne caused a rise in emergency department visits and triple zero calls due to asthma.

Yesterday’s asthma emergency was triggered by thunderstorm conditions combined with a high pollen count, which led to many people experiencing breathing problems, some for the first time.

CEO of Asthma Foundation Victoria, Robin Ould said: “Melbourne weather is highly unpredictable and although events like this are rare, it is difficult to foresee the effect they will have. That is why it is important that asthma is kept well-controlled year-round.”

People diagnosed with asthma should take their preventer medication as prescribed throughout the year to maintain good asthma control.

Having a reliever inhaler to hand at all times is also crucial, as well as using a spacer for any inhaled medication; this ensures the most effective delivery of the medication.

People with asthma should also have an asthma action plan from their General Practitioner, which should be reviewed at least once a year.

Asthma affects 1 in 10 Australians and around 80% of these also experience hay fever.

“The data suggests that there were people with hay fever who have not previously experienced asthma symptoms but who were affected yesterday. We think this happened because of rye grass pollen. These pollen grains are usually large and can be captured in the nose, but wet and windy conditions can break down pollen grains into very fine allergenic particles that are inhaled into the lungs causing the inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms,” said Mr Ould.

Asthma Australia is urging people to remain vigilant, to keep an eye on weather forecasts and ensure they are adhering to their medication guidance.

Anyone who does not have a spacer can obtain one from a pharmacy or their local Asthma Foundation. Advice and support is available via the national 1800 ASTHMA helpline (1800 278 462).


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