CPR First Aid

Thunderstorm Asthma in Australia

Thunderstorm Asthma in Australia

Thunderstorm asthma has been prominent in Australia due to recurring meteorological events like high pollen count, high winds, and storms. This has caused Australians to experience signs and symptoms of moderate to severe asthma. If you or your loved one 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.

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. It has microspores called pollen grains that are being 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 easily 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 be a factor in when pollen counts are at their highest. If you are in Brisbane and Darwin, you are more likely to 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 is 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 then released and may be pushed down to the ground level by weather conditions. It may be as low as along the ground in the winds that come ahead of the rain. These may then be breathed into the lungs as the pollen allergens are very small. 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 Thunderstorm Asthma (TSA) Epidemic is being recognised annually as it struck Victoria on 21 November 2016. 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. If any of these lead to difficulty in breathing, call 000 immediately.

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
  • Have seasonal hay fever
  • Have a ryegrass pollen allergy

If you are sensitive to the grass pollen, you may be at risk of thunderstorm asthma.

How Can the Effects of Thunderstorm Asthma be Avoided?

Thunderstorm asthma may be avoided by doing the following strategies:

  • Following an asthma medical 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.

What is the First Aid to Thunderstorm Asthma?

If you see someone showing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms of thunderstorm asthma, 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 Use an Asthma Puffer?

As mentioned in the first aid steps above, giving puffs is important 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 above-mentioned contents in first aid training.


Thunderstorm asthma is a type of 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 who have existing 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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