Incoming storms prompt health warning for asthma sufferers

A high pollen count has been a factor for a string of magnificent sunsets in Canberra and the ACT in recent days.  NSW Health says high levels of pollen in the air could trigger asthma and respiratory conditions as storms approach Sydney today. Picture: Irene Lorbergs, Canberra School of Photography
A high pollen count has been a factor for a string of magnificent sunsets in Canberra and the ACT in recent days. NSW Health says high levels of pollen in the air could trigger asthma and respiratory conditions as storms approach Sydney today. Picture: Irene Lorbergs, Canberra School of Photography

A storm front sweeping across NSW could trigger serious breathing problems in some people, health authorities have warned.

Winds are expected to reach up to 30km/h by Wednesday afternoon.

NSW Health's Richard Broome said high levels of pollen in the air could trigger asthma and respiratory conditions as the storms approach.

"Thunderstorms cause pollen grains to explode and release fine particles which can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, causing even more people to wheeze and sneeze," Dr Broome said in a statement on Tuesday.

Forecast thunderstorms across Sydney have prompted asthma warnings from authorities.

Forecast thunderstorms across Sydney have prompted asthma warnings from authorities.

The warnings come after 3600 people presented to hospitals in Melbourne with breathing problems following storms in 2016 which had similar atmospheric conditions.

At least nine deaths were linked to the event.

Sydney has never recorded a thunderstorm asthma event of a similar magnitude but rural NSW has, and the health department is urging sensitive people to be extra vigilant.

"Anyone with diagnosed asthma should carry their asthma medication with them at all times during this high-risk period," Dr Broome said.

NSW Health’s asthma first aid:

  • sit the person upright;
  • give four separate puffs from their reliever puffer;
  • wait four minutes and if there’s no improvement, give four more puffs; and
  • if there’s still no improvement, dial 000.