As of today, thunderstorm asthma already claimed the lives of six people in Melbourne Australia. Five more are on life support and are in critical condition while 12 more are recovering from less serious respiratory conditions.
This is not the first time that Australia’s second largest city was hit by the rare disease. The world’s first recorded thunderstorm asthma also occurred in Melbourne last 1987, also in November. Melbourne suffered from the rare disease again on 1989 and another occurrence on 2011.
Strong winds brought about by the storm that hit Australia last Monday ruptured rye grass that resulted in the release of massive amounts of pollen grains. The moisture-charged winds then carry the pollens to the city wherein the allergens enter into the lungs.
Some of the affected patients report of never experiencing asthma before. Meaning, people who inhale rye grass pollens are at risk of respiratory problems.
How to Remain Safe from Thunderstorm Asthma
Since Melbourne is surrounded by trees and bushlands and its weather change is erratic, the city is prone to the disease. In order to remain safe from the deadly respiratory illness, precautions should be implemented.
Monitor pollen count in your area during pollen season, that is, summer and spring. You can check out Melbourne Pollen Count’s website for the forecast.
If you are experiencing hay fever during springtime, you are at risk of thunderstorm asthma. This is possible even if you don’t have previous records of asthma. Hay fever symptoms include colds, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.
If you are experiencing hay fever, it is better to stay indoors, if possible turn on your air conditioner so as to lessen rye grass pollen exposure. If you need to go outdoors, put on an anti-allergy nose mask.
Lastly, for those who suffers from asthma and allergies, make sure to take your preventer and medications regularly. Make sure you make an action plan just in case you will have difficulty breathing. If possible, have someone to accompany you at all times.