Australian Asthmatics Warned Of Thunderstorm Asthma Season

Asthmatics in Australia are urged to prepare for peak thunderstorm asthma season as the La Nina weather event puts allergy and asthma sufferers at risk.

The National Asthma Council states the peak thunderstorm asthma season is set to take hold from October 1 until the end of December. Australia has one of the world's highest rates of asthma, with one in 10 affected.

Asthma Council director and respiratory physician Professor Peter Wark encourages asthma sufferers to check in with their GP to ensure they are under the best treatment possible.

It is also important that asthmatics know what to do in a spring thunderstorm or asthma emergency.

"Good asthma control is critical during thunderstorm asthma season, so keep taking your preventer medication as prescribed by your doctor," Prof Wark said.

The respiratory physician also had a stark warning for those allergic to ryegrass pollen.

The La Niña event underway in the Pacific Ocean will increase the likelihood of above-average rainfall in eastern Australia, which may lead to above-average grass growth and more ryegrass pollen in the air. People with hay fever and an allergy to ryegrass pollen could be at risk of thunderstorm asthma even if they had never before had asthma symptoms.

"If you are allergic to ryegrass pollen, you could have a severe asthma attack if you are outside in gusty winds just before or during a thunderstorm in spring or early summer in a place where there is ryegrass pollen in the air, which includes most of south-eastern Australia," Prof Wark said.

He suggested people with hay fever regularly use a nasal corticosteroid spray every day, while those who needed a reliever more than a couple of times a month should take a preventer.