Asthma Management Handbook

Preventing thunderstorm-triggered asthma


Certain types of thunderstorms in spring or early summer in regions with high grass pollen concentrations in the air can cause life-threatening allergic asthma flare-ups in sensitised individuals, even if they have not had asthma before.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 People at risk of acute asthma flare-ups triggered by a thunderstorm include those with seasonal allergic rhinitis (with or without asthma), those with asthma (or a history of asthma), and those with undiagnosed asthma.2

Prevention and management are based on:6

  • year-round asthma control
  • preventive inhaled corticosteroid treatment
  • management of seasonal allergic rhinitis, including preventive intranasal corticosteroid treatment
  • avoiding exposure to thunderstorms
  • ensuring appropriate access to relievers during grass pollen season.

In this section


  1. D'Amato G, Vitale C, D'Amato M, et al. Thunderstorm-related asthma: what happens and why. Clin Exp Allergy. 2016; 46: 390-6.
  2. Davies J, Queensland University of Technology. Literature review on thunderstorm asthma and its implications for public health advice. Final report. Victorian State Government Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, 2017.
  3. Victoria State Government Department of Health and Human Services. The November 2016 Victorian epidemic thunderstorm asthma event: an assessment of the health impacts. The Chief Health Officer’s Report, 27 April 2017. Victorian Government, Melbourne, 2017.
  4. Marks GB, Colquhoun JR, Girgis ST, et al. Thunderstorm outflows preceding epidemics of asthma during spring and summer. Thorax. 2001; 56: 468-71. Available from:
  5. Girgis ST, Marks GB, Downs SH, et al. Thunderstorm-associated asthma in an inland town in south-eastern Australia. Who is at risk?. Eur Respir J. 2000; 16: 3-8. Available from:
  6. National Asthma Council Australia. Thunderstorm asthma. An information paper for health professionals. NACA, Melbourne, 2017.