With thunderstorms expected to hit the region today, NSW Health has warned asthmatics to take extra care as strong wind gusts threaten to stir large amounts of pollen in the air.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects winds will reach 25 km/h by this afternoon across the region, as a high pressure system approaches from the west.
That, coupled with the mostly dry conditions, could result in a pollen grains "exploding" and releasing fine particles into the air that can be inhaled deeply.
“Even if you don’t have asthma, you should take extra care because pollen is at its highest level now and may spark breathing difficulties in some people,” NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome said.
“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.”
The Bureau of Meteorology said there was a chance thunderstorms will hit Nowra, Ulladulla and Kiama by midday today.
“A high pressure system near New Zealand, in combination with a trough over western New South Wales, is dragging warm and humid air down from the north,” the bureau said.
“The trough, assisted by an approaching cold front, will move east today across most districts, accompanied by widespread rain.”
By 10am this morning 3mm of rain had fallen over Nowra and almost 1mm over Ulladulla, howver Kiama had not received any rain. The bureau expects up to 20mm will fall over Kiama, Nowra and Ulladulla by this evening.
Forecast thunderstorms for much of NSW today has prompted a call for people prone to respiratory conditions and hay-fever to take extra care.
Dr Broome, said late spring saw high levels of pollen in the air, which could trigger asthma and respiratory conditions, especially during thunderstorms.
Following a severe thunderstorm in Melbourne in 2016, about 3600 more people than usual presented to hospital and nine died from asthma attacks.
Dr Broome said during this high-risk period it was important asthma-sufferers carried their medication with them at all times.
“If you have asthma, make sure you have an asthma action plan and are proactively managing your symptoms,” he said.
“It’s also important for people to know Asthma first aid, so they can help family and friends when they need it,” Dr Broome said.
The four steps to remember are:
- 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
- if there’s still no improvement, dial 000.
Breathing difficulties can be life threatening. In the event of an asthma emergency dial triple zero (000) immediately.