What is thunderstorm asthma?
During grass pollen season people may notice an increase in asthma and hay fever. Grass pollen season (October through to December) also brings the chance of thunderstorm asthma.
Thunderstorm asthma is thought to be triggered by a unique combination of high amounts of grass pollen in the air and a certain type of thunderstorm. For people who have asthma or hay fever this can trigger severe asthma symptoms.
Thunderstorm Asthma overview (video)
Learn about thunderstorm asthma and how it affects people with asthma and hay fever.
More thunderstorm asthma videos
Who is at risk?
Thunderstorm asthma can affect those with asthma or hay fever – especially people who experience wheezing or coughing with their hay fever.
Even if you don't think you have asthma or hay fever, don't ignore symptoms like wheezing or shortness of breath – check with your GP.
Protect yourself this pollen season
Here are some things you can do to prepare for pollen season:
- If you have asthma – your GP can help you develop or update your asthma action plan to .
- If you've ever had asthma – talk to your GP about what you can do to help protect yourself from the risk of thunderstorm asthma this pollen season. Remember, taking an asthma preventer properly and regularly is key to preventing asthma, including thunderstorm asthma.
- If you experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or a persistent cough then you may have asthma. It’s important you talk to your GP and get it checked out.
- If you have hay fever – see your pharmacist or GP for a hay fever treatment plan.
- If you have hay fever, and especially if you experience symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, a tight feeling in your chest or coughing, it is important to make sure you don’t also have asthma. Speak to your GP today about whether you might also have asthma, and check if you should have an asthma reliever puffer – which is available from a pharmacy without a prescription.
And finally, where possible avoid being outside during thunderstorms from October through December – especially in the wind gusts that come before the storm. Go inside and close your doors and windows. If you have your air conditioner on, turn it to recirculate.
If you develop asthma symptoms, follow your asthma action plan, or if you don’t have one yet, follow the 4 steps of asthma first aid.
Download the ( or ) and set up a 'watch zone' for your location to receive advice and warnings about potential epidemic thunderstorm asthma events during the grass pollen season. You can also visit the Vic Emergency for updates and information.