CPR First Aid

Thunderstorm Asthma in Australia

Thunderstorm asthma is a type of asthma attack that has been known to affect anyone in Australia. Thunderstorm asthma may be brought about by high amounts of grass pollen and thunderstorms.

Thunderstorm asthma has been prominent in Australia due to recurring meteorological events like high pollen count, high winds, and a certain type of thunderstorm. This has caused a large number of people from Australia to experience signs and symptoms of moderate to severe asthma. This is precisely why understanding this phenomenon and how to deal with it is a matter of public health.

If you or your loved ones were one of these people, enrolling in an accredited first aid course provider in Australia may help you respond to thunderstorm asthma effectively.

What is Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma is a long-term inflammatory condition where the airways become irritated by a trigger leading to difficulty breathing, coughing, and other signs of discomfort, including chest tightness.

Thunderstorm asthma is a long-term inflammatory condition where the airways become irritated by a trigger leading to difficulty breathing, coughing, and other signs of discomfort, including chest tightness.

What Triggers the Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma may be triggered by a unique combination of high amounts of grass pollen in the air and thunderstorms, according to the Better Health Channel.

What is Grass Pollen?

Grass pollen is a very fine substance that looks like a powder. Pollen grains are microspores produced by the male part of the grass. This grass pollen travels in the wind to fertilize the female part of the grass. Grass pollen spreads quickly as they are very lightweight. This makes them easier to be breathed in, which may cause allergies. These allergies vary and may show different signs and symptoms. One of them may be thunderstorm asthma.

When is the Pollen Season in Australia?

Fertilization of the grass pollen happens more often in certain months of the year. In Australia, these may be from August to March. There is a possibility that this may be extended until May, according to Asthma Australia.

Your location in Australia may also factor in when pollen counts are at their highest. If you are in Brisbane and Darwin, you will likely experience high pollen for most of the year. If you are in Melbourne and Hobart, high pollen counts may be observed during October and November. If you are in Adelaide, Sydney, or Canberra, you may have the pollen season during spring and summer.

How are Pollen Grains Combined with a Thunderstorm?

Pollen grains may be drawn up into the clouds while a thunderstorm forms. These absorb water, swell, and burst open. Pollen allergens are released and may be pushed down to the ground by weather conditions. It may be as low as along the ground in the winds that come ahead of the rain. These may be breathed into the lungs as the pollen allergens are microscopic. As an effect, thunderstorm asthma attacks may be triggered.

What is the Thunderstorm Asthma Situation in Australia?

In Australia, people are being made vigilant about thunderstorm asthma. There have been multiple thunderstorm asthma events arranged by organisations like Asthma Australia. A epidemic thunderstorm asthma event is recognised annually as it struck Victoria on 21 November 2016.

At this time, thousands of Victorian citizens across long distances began experiencing difficulty breathing within a short period of time. It was considered a very tragic event and one of the biggest of its type in the history of Australia. It caused the death of ten people and thunderstorm asthma attacks to thousands.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma may trigger any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pale and sweaty skin
  • Bluish face and lips
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Wheezing when you breathe
  • Persistent coughing

These thunderstorm asthma symptoms may get worse if not treated with first aid. ]So if If any of these lead to difficulty in breathing, call 000 immediately. In order to properly do so, people must be able to identify severe asthma symptoms.

What are Severe Asthma Symptoms?

Severe symptoms are actually much like the normal symptoms of asthma, albeit much more intense. For instance:

  • Shortness of breath can continue to worsen until it gets harder and harder for a person to breathe.
  • The tightness in a person’s chest continues to constrict with pain increasing.
  • A person’s coughing can either be dry or produce mucus.
  • A persisting wheezing when a person breathes, even after treatment has been administered.

When any of these become readily apparent in a casualty, it may be time to get in contact with health professionals.

Who is Prone to Thunderstorm Asthma?

Anyone in Australia may be affected by thunderstorm asthma. Following are the people who may be prone to experiencing it:

  • Have an existing asthma condition
  • Have seasonal hay fever or allergic rhinitis
  • Have a ryegrass pollen allergy
  • Even those who have an undiagnosed asthma condition or those without a history of asthma

If you are sensitive to the grass pollen, you may be at risk of thunderstorm asthma. A specific combination of factors can more accurately point whether a person is prone to being affected by thunderstorm asthma.

For instance, if a person is afflicted with hay fever starts sneezing and wheezing during a time with high pollen levels and severe thunderstorms, these people are more susceptible. This is why it is important to understand the various factors that can trigger this condition, as well as the symptoms of asthma.

If you are sensitive to the grass pollen, you may be at risk of thunderstorm asthma. A specific combination of factors can more accurately point whether a person is prone to being affected by thunderstorm asthma.

How Can the Effects of Thunderstorm Asthma be Avoided?

Thunderstorm asthma may be avoided by doing the following strategies:

  • Following an asthma action plan.
  • Checking the pollen counts and weather forecasts from reliable resources like the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • Closing windows and doors.
  • Avoiding the external environment during a storm.
  • Carrying and using medication and a spacer correctly if you’ve had asthma attacks before. These also include preparing preventer medication.
  • If your air conditioner is turned on before or during a storm, set it to recirculate the air.

What is the First Aid to Thunderstorm Asthma?

If you see someone showing the signs mentioned above and thunderstorm asthma symptoms, appropriate first aid steps may be done immediately. This is known to be the 4×4×4 rule:

  • Give 4 separate puffs of reliever medication in a seated upright position.
  • Shake the puffer before each puff.
  • Ensure 4 breaths between each puff, every four minutes.

If the above first aid management does not help, it is advised to call 000 immediately. You may keep performing the 4×4×4 first aid treatment while waiting for emergency help.

How to Handle Severe Asthma Symptoms?

Medications

Severe symptoms of asthma tend to be persistent and hard to control. That is why it is best to prevent these symptoms from reaching these levels. If they do though, the best thing to do is to link with the relevant Australian healthcare professionals or departments.

The problem with this level of symptoms is that they cannot be treated by the usual medications. This usually becomes the case if steroids and things like glucocorticoids have been used previously, or if there are no other signs or conditions to explain the symptoms being experienced. When this happens, doctors will work with you to create a treatment plan for this high-risk condition.

Treatment for these severe symptoms may include things like corticosteroid injections, increased and frequent doses of inhaled corticosteroids, persistent inhaled nebulizers, oxygen therapy, theophylline, and many others.

Lifestyle Changes

There are many thing that people can do with their lifestyle to help out in the treatment of severe asthma. For instance, it was discovered that fat tissues are able to create substances that are more inflammatory and affect the lungs. These substances have effects on the lungs and can trigger asthma. Thus, one lifestyle change that can be enacted is the loss of weight and avoiding potential obesity.

Another thing to do is to be aware of any potential triggers and subsequently avoid them. When it is grass pollen season, prepare for it to potentially provoke any asthmatic conditions. Similarly, do not head into any high grass pollen areas, especially when thunderstorms may be starting up.

Listen to emergency departments and the department of health for any signs of weather events or epidemic thunderstorm asthma events that may be taking place. A good source of these updates is by downloading apps like the Vic Emergency app in Victoria or other similar apps.

Taking Other Remedies

Finally, it may do some good to bolster current asthma medications with other remedies. These can include things like practising breathing exercises. These breathing exercises may help one be in tune with one’s breath and may reduce the amount of medication needed.

At the same time, certain herbal medications such as black seed and choline can prove helpful. Taking choline affects overall health and improves the liver and nervous system. It may also help to clear up any coughing. Taking black seed helps with inflammation, even those in the lungs.

Other supplements or remedies to look at can include magnesium and caffeine. As a disclaimer though, it bears mentioning that one should always study the most current factsheets regarding these remedies to see their actual effects.

How to Use an Asthma Puffer?

As mentioned in the first aid steps above, giving puffs is vital in dealing with a thunderstorm asthma attack. A standard puffer may be used with appropriate first aid steps. Knowing how to do these may be learned by enrolling in an accredited first aid course provider near you.

As mentioned in the first aid steps above, giving puffs is vital in dealing with a thunderstorm asthma attack. A standard puffer may be used with appropriate first aid steps. Knowing how to do these may be learned by enrolling in an accredited first aid course provider near you.

What are the contents of a First Aid Course?

Aside from knowing how to use an asthma puffer as part of the first aid response to emergencies like a thunderstorm asthma attack, other life-saving skills may also be acquired in a first aid course. These may include most or all of the following:

  • Placing patients in the recovery position.
  • Applying bandages and slings.
  • Using the EpiPen.
  • Performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The first aid course for a general First Aid qualification is called the HLTAID011 Provide first aid, which covers the contents mentioned earlier in first aid training.

Conclusion

Thunderstorm asthma is an asthma attack that may be brought about by high amounts of grass pollen and thunderstorms. It has been known to affect anyone in Australia, especially those with asthma, hay fever, and ryegrass pollen allergies. Its signs and symptoms may lead to difficulty in breathing and even death. Carrying an asthma puffer may be life-saving. Correct usage of it as part of the first aid response to thunderstorm asthma attacks and other life-saving skills may be learned by enrolling in a first aid course in Australia.

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