23 Nov 2016

Thunderstorm asthma - why does it happen?

Mark Hew explains thunderstorm asthma
to ABC News Breakfast hosts Virginia
Trioli and Michael Rowland. See video
Associate Professor Mark Hew, Head of Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology at The Alfred, explains the phenomenon of  'thunderstorm asthma' and what asthmatics can do to protect themselves.

"The recent thunderstorm asthma event has raised several important questions," A/Prof Hew said.

"How did it happen? It appears that three events need to line-up to trigger thunderstorm asthma.

"Firstly, hot weather during the springtime leads to high pollen counts. Secondly, the increased moisture from an impending thunderstorm causes pollen grains to swell and burst, releasing tiny pollen particles. Thirdly, storm outflow winds bring these tiny particles down close to the ground where they can be breathed deep into the airways of our lungs, triggering an allergic asthma attack.

"Clearly, many lessons will need to be learned in terms of better prediction and warning systems, emergency responses, and identifying and protecting the vulnerable population of people with asthma and pollen allergy.

"The events of this week are a wake-up call to asthma sufferers to take their prescribed preventers regularly. It is also important for them to update their asthma action plan with their GP so they know what to do in an emergency.

"If you are suffering shortness of breath or strugging to breathe, don't hesitate to call Triple 0."

A/Prof Hew's Difficult Asthma Clinic team recently received the Alfred's Team Award for Leading Innovation. Story link.

See Alfred story and more Alfred news at: www.alfredhealth.org.au/news/

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