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Two People Die in Australia Due to Thunderstorm Asthma

Two die as severe 'thunderstorm asthma' outbreak in Australia causes breathing problems for thousands:

Read the full story in the Telegraph here.

Two people have died in Australia due to a medical phenomenon called ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’.

The phenomenon is still not fully understood by scientists, but is known to increase A&E visits and ambulance calls.[1]

Amena Warner, Head of Clinical Services, says; “During a thunderstorm pollen grains split up making the particles smaller and more easily inhaled into the lungs. Combined with wind and heavy rainfall this can cause hay fever and asthma symptoms to significantly worsen.”

Some of the primary allergens affected by thunderstorm are grass pollen and mould spores. For people with hay fever and asthma these conditions can potentially cause difficulty of breathing and chest tightening. It is therefore extremely important that people take precautions and manage their allergies right now.

She says; “Most people with hay fever and asthma will feel their normal symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes increase. However, these weather conditions can cause even mild symptoms to become severe. If you haven’t got anything to help you manage your symptoms and you experience difficulty breathing and tight in your chest make sure to seek medical help. In some cases it can be dangerous”.

People with allergies can expect this phenomenon will normally reduce within 24 hours after a thunderstorm once these conditions abate.

Allergy UK advises the following for people with hay fever or asthma:

  • Stay indoors with windows closed when possible during this time
  • Take a long acting and non-sedating anti-histamine – even if you don’t yet feel symptoms worsening
  • Take your normal full daily prescription of asthma medication as you would usually do
  • Keep a reliever inhaler with you at all times
  • Follow your personal allergy or asthma management plan. If you don’t have one make sure to contact your GP to get a future one in place
  • If you have never had a diagnosis of asthma, but feel very tight in the chest and have difficulty breathing seek urgent medical advice


[1] QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, Oxford University Press, Dec. 2012, http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/3/207.long