Media Releases

Asthma warning as heatwaves sweep across Australia

20 Dec 2019

With sweltering summer temperatures predicted for many parts of Australia the National Asthma Council Australia is warning people with asthma or hay fever to be well prepared.

Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy says that the record-breaking temperatures forecast across the nation could affect people’s breathing and trigger symptoms for the one in nine Australians with asthma.

‘While some people get asthma symptoms in hot humid air and others are affected by hot dry air, it’s important to remember that extreme weather changes can trigger anyone’s asthma – especially when you’re moving from hot humid weather outside into a cool building.

‘Pollen, dust and mould also are more prevalent over summer and can trigger symptoms when you least expect them, so we’re urging people to plan ahead and look out for their personal warning signs to help prevent serious complications during the summer heat wave,’ says Ms Brophy.

Ms Brophy adds that people with asthma and allergies should stay aware of how they’re feeling during the heat, and if asthma symptoms start, should act quickly to stop it turning into an asthma attack and seek professional help.

‘It’s important to stick to a good routine by taking your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed,’ says Ms Brophy. ‘That way you’re on top of your asthma whatever the weather throws at you.’

More importantly, as alerts for bushfires hit extreme across most of the country, the Council is reminding people in high risk areas to make sure they pack their asthma medication and written asthma action plan (if they have one) in their emergency evacuation kit.

While asthma triggered by the heat doesn’t normally cause extra symptoms, it is important to stay alert in case your asthma flares-up and to follow the Asthma Council’s tips for staying safe in the heat.

Keep cool  

Your reliever puffer doesn’t like extreme heat, so make sure it’s not stored in your car glovebox or under a sunny window.

Avoid going out in the sun and make sure you cover up if you do go outside.

Swap your outdoor run for a gym session or swim.

If your house isn’t air-conditioned, use a portable fan to keep cool. This can work better if you close windows and doors and try to keep one room cool.

Escape to an air-conditioned shopping centre, cinema or library if you can.

Stay hydrated 

Dehydration can play a role in asthma and allergies, so it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Plan your day

Check weather, bushfire and pollen forecasts to make sure you are prepared for any changes coming up.

Consider staying indoors or avoiding the outdoors in hot weather or poor air quality days as this can trigger your asthma.

Pollen levels are usually highest before 9am, so try and run errands mid-morning.

Visit pollenforecast.com.au to find daily pollen counts for different Australian states.

For more information on managing your asthma in hot weather and staying well check out our factsheet library.

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