More than ever before, this year it’s important to manage any hay fever or asthma symptoms, as these conditions can produce those similar to coronavirus (COVID-19), such as a runny nose, cough or shortness of breath.
While good management can help prevent these, it’s critical for patients to get tested for coronavirus if these are different to their usual symptoms.
Grass pollen season brings a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis). It also brings the chance of epidemic thunderstorm asthma. Thunderstorm asthma can affect those with asthma or seasonal hay fever. Having both asthma and seasonal hay fever and poorly managed asthma increases the risk further.
People with asthma and hay fever symptoms may also touch their face more frequently, increasing their risk of being infected or transmitting coronavirus if not practicing appropriate hand hygiene, maintaining appropriate physical distancing or practicing good respiratory hygiene.
The best way those at risk can protect themselves, is to have good control of their asthma and hay fever, with an up-to-date asthma action plan or hay fever treatment plan, learning asthma first aid and avoiding storms during the grass pollen season, including the wind gusts that precede them.
Monash Health employees can be treated in the Allergy department. Please provide a referral and a note on this identifying you as an employee so that we can appropriately triage. For urgent conditions, the drop-in service is still operating and can be accessed currently on Tuesdays 1.00-4.00pm here. Referral guidelines for GPs can be found here (please note that this clinic will incorporate Dermatology as well). For further information regarding our service, please contact the Allergy CNC on 0423 898 136.
The National Asthma Council recently updated the Australian Asthma Handbook with recommendations that offer new alternative treatment options for Victorians with mild asthma. Anyone with asthma should see their GP to develop or review their asthma action plan and make sure any associated hay fever is well managed.
Those with questions about COVID-19 can call the dedicated hotline 1800 675 398 or visit the DHHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) website.
Epidemic thunderstorm asthma public health campaign resources aim to ensure all Victorians, especially those with asthma and/or hay fever, are prepared, should another epidemic thunderstorm asthma event occur. They include:
- Department of Health and Human Services: www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/environmental-health/climate-weather-and-public-health/thunderstorm-asthma/toolkit (available in 15 languages)
- Better Health Channel
- Asthma Australia
- Australian Asthma Handbook
An epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast will be issued throughout the grass pollen season from 1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020. The forecast can be accessed via the VicEmergency website or app, the health.vic website or the Melbourne Pollen website or app.
Further information on thunderstorm asthma in available from the department’s Environmental Health Unit on 1300 761 874 or email email@example.com.
Approved by Sara Barnes, Head of Allergy