If you have breathing difficulties during a thunderstorm you should take your reliever medication, but if symptoms persist - go straight to the Emergency Department of your local hospital.
Asthma Foundation NSW has found that a large proportion of people who have wheezing and sneezing or other breathing symptoms during the spring thunderstorm season do not realise they are sensitive to pollens. Also they do not regard themselves as having asthma and therefore have not consulted their doctor for an Asthma Action Plan. Many people moving to country NSW may not have been previously exposed to this combination of environmental conditions and have never experienced the symptoms of asthma. This includes an increasing transient population, including groups such as defence personnel, University students and itinerant workers.
There are several actions that can help protect against thunderstorm asthma.
Most asthma medications are inhaled via either an aerosol inhaler (puffer) or dry powder inhaler. Most people use inhaled asthma medication because medication goes directly to the lungs and smaller doses can be given so there are fewer side effects.
Use of a spacer device (such as the one in the image above) optimises delivery of the drug dose to the smaller airways (and limits deposition in the mouth and throat). You should consult your local GP who can help you prepare a written Asthma Action Plan, including information about:
Continuously repeat steps 2 and 3 while waiting for the ambulance.
* A Bricanyl Turbuhaler may be used in first aid treatment if a puffer and spacer is not available.
** If a spacer is not available, simply use the puffer on it's own.
ASTHMA Foundation NSW provides free information:
The Wagga Asthma and COPD Collaborative is a group of health professionals and consumer representatives who promote awareness of asthma and coordinate the pollen counts and asthma alerts for the Wagga Wagga region when the thunderstorm asthma risk is high.