Hay fever and thunderstorm asthma

We are now officially in grass pollen season, which means many people in the community will be suffering from hay fever and asthma (including thunderstorm asthma).

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Thunderstorm asthma

  • The 2020 grass pollen season goes from October to the end of December, bringing an increase in asthma and hay fever and the chance of epidemic thunderstorm asthma.
  • Those considered at risk of thunderstorm asthma include people with asthma or hay fever, including those with undiagnosed asthma. Where possible, people with asthma and hay fever should also avoid exposure to springtime thunderstorms, especially the wind gusts that precede them.
  • All those with asthma, and particularly those with mild asthma, should see their GP now to develop or review your asthma action plan and make sure any associated hay fever is well managed.
  • You should always follow your asthma action plan or hay fever treatment plan and know asthma first aid.

What to do on a high-risk day

  • Avoid being outside during thunderstorms — especially in the wind gusts that come before the storm and particularly on high-risk days. Go inside and close your doors and windows, and if you have your air conditioner on, turn it to recirculate.
  • If you have asthma and hay fever, have your reliever medication readily available.
  • Follow your management plan and be alert to and act on the development of asthma symptoms.
  • Check the VicEmergency website or app for warnings in your area: emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare/#thunderstorm-asthma-forecast
  • In the case of an emergency, call 000

For more information about epidemic thunderstorm asthma: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/thunderstormasthma

Hay fever, asthma and coronavirus

The symptoms of hay fever and asthma — a runny nose, cough and shortness of breath — are similar to those of coronavirus. If you have any symptoms, you must get tested for coronavirus straight away, even if you suspect it is hay fever.

If your test comes back negative but your symptoms persist, you should make an appointment with your GP to speak with them about how you can manage the symptoms.

If you notice any change in your symptoms, however small, you must get re-tested for coronavirus.

It is also essential that you keep wearing a mask, maintain physical distancing and practise good hygiene. Sneezing and coughing releases droplets into the air, and if you do have coronavirus, the virus will spread rapidly in the community.

If you live or work in Victoria and you are seeking more information on seasonal hay fever and asthma, visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website: dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus


In other states, please visit: www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19

Additional resources

Better Health Channel: Asthma emergency first aid(opens in new window)

Better Health Channel: Thunderstorm asthma(opens in new window)

Asthma Foundation VIC: asthmaaustralia.org.au(opens in new window)

National Asthma Foundation of Australia: nationalasthma.org.au

Last reviewed September 2, 2020.

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