Health authorities issue thunderstorm asthma warning

Thunderstorm asthma warning issued

Health authorities are calling on residents to be prepared for asthma attacks brought on by thunderstorms.

The northern NSW-based Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has warned the next four weeks or so may be a period of greater risk for asthma sufferers and people who wheeze and sneeze during spring time.

"You could be at risk during this thunderstorm asthma season, even if you don't think you have asthma," MLHD Public Health Unit director Tracey Oakman said.

"In 2016 Melbourne an additional 3,643 people presented to hospital and nine died from asthma attacks after a severe thunderstorm," she said.

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Mrs Oakman wishes to remind all people who wheeze and sneeze during spring that they could be at risk of an asthma event during a thunderstorm.

"Thunderstorms cause pollen grains to explode and release fine particles which can be inhaled more deeply into the lungs making even more people wheeze and sneeze," Mrs Oakman added.

"People should be prepared, not alarmed, and anyone with diagnosed asthma should carry their asthma medication with them at all times during this high risk period."

Mrs Oakman said, where possible, those with the potential for an attack should avoid being outside during thunderstorms over the next four weeks.

"Parents should be vigilant to keep their children inside during storms, with the doors and windows closed," Mrs Oakman said.

The MLHD Public Health Unit will be monitoring thunderstorm activity and pollen count levels and issuing alerts at these high risk times according to Mrs Oakman.

Charles Sturt University has set up a SMS alert system when the pollen counts are high and thunderstorms are predicted.

To register for this alert go to https://science.csu.edu.au/asthma.

"If anyone experiences breathing difficulties it is essential to seek medical help immediately," Mrs Oakman said.

"Breathing difficulties can be life threatening."

In the event of an asthma emergency dial triple zero (000) immediately.