As recent events have shown us, asthma attacks can strike fast and to a widespread range of individuals. Even those who have never been affected before could develop asthma over their lives and experience a sudden onset for the very first time during an extreme weather condition. Melbourne is known as a global hotspot for the ‘thunderstorm asthma’ phenomenon, so we tend to experience more cases of it than anywhere else in the world.
Knowing what to do for asthma first aid will help if this happens to you or anyone around you. Of course for the 1 in 9 Australians who are diagnosed asthmatics, they should take their preventer medication and follow their asthma management plan.
However for those of us who presume we are asthma free, being awareness that it can in fact strike anyone at any time of life is important. As a precaution, everyone can keep a reliever inhaler (e.g. Ventolin) in their personal First Aid kit to use should the need arise. Ventolin is available without a prescription to anyone in Victoria and if taken by non-asthmatics will not be harmful.
How do you know if you might experience thunderstorm asthma? A study found that in 95% of those affected, they’d had a history of hayfever and allergies. If this is you or a loved one, you should be particularly aware of what to do for asthma first aid.
If the casualty is unconscious, follow DRSABCD and call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
For conscious casualties, following the 4 x 4 x 4 method is the best first aid treatment for an asthma attack.
If you’ve never experienced an attack before, you should see your doctor. They can advise you on how to prevent further episodes and avoid attacks in the future.
As there is no real cure for asthma, those affected should focus on avoiding triggers. Particularly in the event of a storm, asthmatics should stay inside with the windows and doors closed until after the storm has passed. If you also suffer from hayfever, following this advice may also help you avoid incidences of thunderstorm asthma.
With millions of Australians suffering from asthma and many more millions from hayfever that could trigger asthma, we should all be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to manage an asthma attack. The person it saves could be you.