Hay fever patients are urged to prepare early for the pollen season as hospitals face increasing demand due to COVID-19.
The grass pollen season, which generally runs from early October to late December, brings with it an increase in asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and the risk of thunderstorm asthma.
dr. Angie Bone, Victoria’s deputy health officer, encouraged people to implement their asthma action plans.
“It’s important for anyone who has or has ever had asthma, or hay fever in the spring, or who might sneeze or wheeze during pollen season, to talk to their GP or pharmacist now about what they can do to protect themselves, ” she said.
dr. Bone said plans should be reviewed every year for adults or every six months for children.
In a statement, the Victorian Department of Health said people with asthma should wear their asthma preventer and reliever puffer and know what to do if they have an asthma attack.
“People with spring hay fever should know what asthma symptoms are and learn the four steps of first aid for asthma,” the statement said.
“Asthma relievers can be purchased from pharmacies without a prescription if desired.
“Having good control of your asthma or hay fever during the grass pollen season can help you avoid confusion with a COVID-19 infection as the symptoms of asthma, hay fever and COVID-19 can be similar.
“People should test for COVID-19 if their symptoms are new, different from normal, have resumed after a period of absence, or if they are uncertain.
“We know that our hospitals are currently experiencing increased demand due to COVID-19 and other illnesses, so it is important that people at risk take steps to protect themselves and those in their care ahead of time,” said Dr. . bone.
A spokesperson for NSW Health said that while thunderstorm asthma events are rare in New South Wales, they are an important reminder that asthma can be a serious condition.
“In NSW, the period from October to November is a time of higher risk for thunderstorm asthma because there are higher pollen levels that can coincide with thunderstorms,” they said.
“Every year approximately 10,000 people are admitted to NSW hospitals for the treatment of asthma. About one in nine adults and one in eight children have asthma in NSW.
“It is important that people with asthma have an up-to-date asthma action plan. Those who wheeze and sneeze in the spring check with their doctor to see if they actually have asthma.
Asthma Australia reported that last season’s grass pollen levels in Brisbane and Canberra “broke records”, with some describing it as the worst pollen season ever recorded, causing widespread discomfort for hay fever sufferers.
Brisbane’s record pollen levels were attributed to a combination of high rainfall, grass growth and above average temperatures.
During the same period, Canberra’s pollen measurements were the highest in more than 10 years of research.
In general, wetter conditions lead to more grass growth than drier conditions and the production of more grass pollen when those grasses bloom.
The current Indian Ocean dipole and the BoM’s forecast of a 70 percent chance of another La Niña season suggest rainfall above the median will fall from September to November in most of Australia’s eastern half.
University of Melbourne associate professor Ed Newbigin says heavy spring rains linked to a La Niña could trigger conditions that exacerbate the hay fever season.
“If we get a lot of spring rain, then it could certainly give us better conditions for grass growth and that will lead to more grass pollen which will adversely affect people with allergies,” he said.
A recent study examining the impact of hay fever on children ages six to 15 found that the condition affected many aspects of daily life, including emotional well-being, physical health, school and sleep.
What is Thunderstorm Asthma?
According to the Better Health Channel, thunderstorm asthma is thought to be caused by a unique combination of high amounts of grass pollen in the air and a certain type of thunderstorm.
In people with asthma or hay fever, this can cause severe asthma symptoms.
In November 2016, 10 Victorians died and thousands were affected by the world’s worst outbreak of thunderstorm asthma.
The seriousness of that event surprised many Victorians, including emergency services.
Asthma first aid
- Does the person sit upright
- Give four separate puffs of the reliever puff
- shake puffer
- Take a puff on the spacer
- Take four breaths from the spacer
- Repeat until four puffs have been taken
- Wait four minutes. If there is no improvement, repeat four puffs as above
Still no improvement? Call an ambulance and repeat four puffs every four minutes until help arrives.
VicEmergency website: emergency.vic.gov.au, or download the VicEmergency app.
This general warning system predicts the risk of asthma during the pollen season from October to December.
It analyzes pollen counts, weather conditions and hospital presentations to predict risk levels.
Pollen count warnings in capital cities
Or call: 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462).