Kyabram Free Press

Warning for asthma sufferers

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Thundersto­rm asthma season has arrived and the risk of deadly events is tipped to be higher than normal with a wet end to the year forecast.

The Bureau of Meteorolog­y is predicting heavy spring rainfall for much of the country, increasing the risk of thundersto­rm asthma events in late spring to early summer.

‘‘Forecast wet and warm conditions will lead to good grass and vegetation growth over the spring period and this forecast is largely driven by a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, which is the first negative IOD event since 2016,’’ senior forecaster Keris Arndt said.

Ten people died during or soon after the thundersto­rm asthma event in Melbourne on November 21, 2016, with about 1400 people also treated in hospital.

Those affected included people with and without a history of asthma, those with undiagnose­d asthma and others with seasonal hay fever.

National Asthma Council Australia director Professor Peter Wark said those with hay fever and allergies to ryegrass pollen might be at risk of thundersto­rm asthma, even if they had never experience­d asthma symptoms before.

The respirator­y physician reminded asthma suffers living in or travelling to a region with seasonal high grass pollen levels to carry their inhaler.

‘‘These steps offer the best protection from worsening asthma,’’ Prof

Wark said.

He also advised asthma or hay fever sufferers to check online grass pollen counts for their region each day and stay inside as thundersto­rms approached.

As wet and wild weather lashes parts of eastern Australia, epidemic thundersto­rm asthma season runs until the end of December.

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