Public health alert – Weather conditions may increase the risk of people suffering asthma over the weekend

The Health Directorate is warning of a possible thunderstorm asthma event today (2 November 2018) and over the weekend in the ACT.

Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered by a combination of high grass pollen levels and some thunderstorms, which causes people to develop asthma symptoms over a short period of time.

Today’s high grass pollen levels and thunderstorm activity this afternoon pose a moderate risk of people developing thunderstorm asthma.

Not all thunderstorms produce a harmful effect with pollen. However, people who suffer from hay-fever or asthma are encouraged to be vigilant over the weekend for exacerbations of their condition.

People with asthma or hay fever can protect themselves during these periods of increased risk by:

o avoiding going outside in storms that may emerge, especially the wind gusts that precede them
o having their reliever available
o review their asthma action plan, and
o review the four steps of asthma first aid (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/videos/thunderstormasthma-firstaid)

If people are experiencing asthma symptoms which are unrelieved by their usual asthma treatment, seek further urgent medical advice. In the event of a medical emergency call 000.

This is also a reminder for Canberrans who suffer from asthma and hay fever to see their doctor or pharmacist to make sure their treatment and action plans are up-to-date and appropriate during the pollen season.

A useful resource to help Canberrans monitor pollen levels is the free AirRater Smartphone app which provides users with real-time information on air quality.

For more information on managing asthma and hay fever, visit: https://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-09/Asthma and Pollen – Information Sheet.pdf

To download the free AirRater smartphone application: https://airrater.org/

Visit the daily Canberra Pollen Count and Forecast Service: http://www.canberrapollen.com.au

To keep up to date on further air quality indicators, including smoke, visit the ACT Health website: https://health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/environmental-monitoring-air-water/monitoring/historical

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