The death toll from thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne, Australia has risen to eight. Department of Health and Human Services revealed on Tuesday that two more people died while one patient remains in critical condition.

The thunderstorm that occurred on Monday last week triggered thousands of pollen allergy asthma attacks. Apparently, the wind and air moisture broke up rye grass pollen into pieces small enough to get inhaled into people’s lungs, causing respiratory problems.

Hospitals and other healthcare services got overwhelmed with the number of people who reported breathing problems after the thunderstorm. Melbourne hospitals have treated more than 8,500 patients.

Victoria’s State Government stated that anyone can exhibit asthma symptoms during an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event. However, those with asthma, allergies or hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, are at an increased risk of developing this.

Those who get affected with thunderstorm asthma can exhibit the same symptoms as one sees in regular asthma, which include wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.

If a person’s condition does not get relieved from using inhaler, he becomes unable to speak comfortably and his lips turn blue. This means that the condition is deteriorating. Medical help should be sought immediately.

To prevent such problem in individuals with asthma, they should stick to their asthma treatment, including their medications and other management plans. The Victoria State government also pointed out the following:

“People with asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis) should, as always, use their usual medications, know the signs of worsening asthma and the asthma first aid steps and try to stay inside on high-pollen and windy days and during and after a thunderstorm. They should remain alert to the signs of asthma worsening and encourage friends and family members to undertake basic First Aid training.”

People with allergic rhinitis or rye grass allergies may want to stay indoors during a thunderstorm but experts say this may not help them so they should still remain alert to deteriorating asthma symptoms.