Thunderstorm Asthma

Epidemic Thunderstom Asthma

On the 21st of November 2016 Melbourne residents experienced the world’s largest epidemic of thunderstorm asthma which triggered symptoms in many who had no prior diagnosis of asthma.

Symptoms can become suddenly very severe:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Dry cough


Gusty strong winds with high grass pollen levels can cause particles to separate and release tiny particles into the air which are then dumped when a thunderstorm occurs.  When tiny particles get into your lungs they can quickly trigger an asthma attack.

Those at greatest risk:

  • Those with asthma;
  • Those with hay fever and undiagnosed asthma;
  • Allergy sufferers;
  • Those with underlying lung disease such as COPD.

What to do:

Everyone should educate yourselves on the four steps of asthma first aid.

  • Formulate an Asthma Management Plan with your GP;
  • Stay indoors during the thunderstorm period;
  • Use your preventative medications such as anti-histamines, allergy nasal sprays and regular inhalers;
  • Keep your reliever medication on hands and use more frequently as advised by your doctor.

Find out more about epidemic thunderstorm asthma and asthma first aid on the Better Health Channel