- Murrumbidgee Asthma Collaborative advice is to be prepared prior to spring thunderstorm season, seek out an asthma treatment plan and learn the basics of asthma first aid
- COVID-19 is now a real possibility in the local healthcare district and further raises the risk for people with uncontrolled asthma
- Charles Sturt University is a member of the Murrumbidgee Asthma Collaborative
As a member of the Murrumbidgee Asthma Collaborative, Charles Sturt University is advising all community members in the region who have breathing difficulties related to asthma, hay fever and sinus problems to begin their preparations prior to the spring thunderstorm season.
This year the advice is simple: be prepared, seek out an asthma treatment plan and learn the basics of asthma first aid.
Local respiratory physician Associate Professor Adriaan Venter said the spring thunderstorm season is being complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic yet the need for preventative measures remains.
“The fact that COVID-19 is now a real possibility in our local healthcare district further raises the risk for people with uncontrolled asthma, who we know will have a more severe outcome in the event of becoming unwell,” Professor Venter said.
“This is the reason why we advise universal vaccination against the virus. Prevention is always better,” he said.
“Apart from COVID-19 there are a number of respiratory viruses that cause trouble during this period. Symptoms such as sneezing, a sore throat and a fever with a runny nose are all common with these types of infections. Clinically they are indistinguishable from each other and therefore when they occur it is important to get a COVID-19 swab and isolate until the results are known.
“With the symptoms, it is important to realise that even though the swab may be negative there is still one of the respiratory viruses that would be causing the symptoms. Wearing a mask prevents the spread of not only COVID-19, but also these viruses. We need to ensure that everybody stays healthy and that we do not personally expose anybody who might be at risk.”
Professor Venter said asthma action plans will ensure preventative actions are included daily and warns against relying on only treating asthma when it flares up.
“Not every person with asthma will necessarily have an exacerbation during thunderstorms, but what is important is to remember that uncontrolled asthma (asthma that has been diagnosed but is not using a regular daily preventative treatment and having daily symptoms) is a serious risk for a major asthma attack during the spring season when thunderstorms occur regularly,” Professor Venter said.
People with asthma or their carers are encouraged to register at science.csu.edu.au/asthma to receive alerts via email or SMS when thunderstorm asthma risk is elevated.
The annual spring thunderstorm asthma campaign is promoted by the Murrumbidgee Asthma Collaborative which includes representatives from Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, Wagga Wagga Base Hospital (WWBH), Charles Sturt University, Asthma Australia, pharmacy and interested community groups.