Incidence of asthma across Maitland up at an alarming rate

OUT OF PUFF: Maitland Levee Pharmacy dispensary manager Danni Atkins with pharmacist Maddie Atkins. Picture: Marina Neil

OUT OF PUFF: Maitland Levee Pharmacy dispensary manager Danni Atkins with pharmacist Maddie Atkins. Picture: Marina Neil

Maitland is on the brink of an asthma epidemic with medical professionals and pharmacists reporting an alarming increase in patients seeking treatment for what can be a deadly respiratory condition.

We had a 50 per cent increase in the sale of Asmol inhalers during November. - Maitland pharmacist Maddie Atkins.

The news comes as thunderstorms have been linked to epidemics of asthma recently leading to several deaths in Victoria.

Thunderstorm asthma is triggered from the fragmentation of pollens and the disturbance of other environmental allergens, especially during the grass flowering season.

Anyone with a known history of asthma is at risk of experiencing an exacerbation of their usual symptoms during the current storm season.

Eight people have died after a rare explosion of pollen caused breathing difficulties for thousands of Victorians last week, including hundreds of children.

Maitland Levee Pharmacy pharmacist Maddie Atkins said there had been a substantial increase in the number of inhalers and prescribed asthma medications during the past month.

“We had a 50 per cent increase in the sale of Asmol inhalers during November,” she said.

“There has definitely been a big spike in both Asmol and Ventolin and a lot more people coming in to get relievers during November than in previous months. The number of people coming in for prescriptions for preventers has also increased,” she said.

“I think this year has been particularly bad for asthmatics as well as for those who suffer allergies and hayfever,” Ms Atkins said.

Rutherford general practitioner Dr Jake Alexander said his practice had experienced a significant spike in asthma presentations.

He said that in the past several weeks there had been an increase of between 30 and 40 per cent of asthma sufferers coming through Rutherford Family Medical Practice’s doors and it involved people of all ages. 

Asthma Australia says changes in weather, for example going from low humidity to high humidity, changes in air temperature and windy conditions can be a trigger for asthmatics. 

Poor air quality can also be a trigger.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest, said people with asthma should, as always, use their usual medications and where possible.

They should also stay inside during windy conditions with high pollen counts or dust.

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