AN OUTBREAK of thunderstorm asthma could put stress on COVID-19 testing clinics.
Bendigo Health infectious diseases physician Andrew Mahony said many people may be affected if Victoria experiences a hay fever season like previous years.
This year's hay fever season is expected to match last year's according to the Melbourne Pollen Count.
Dr Mahony said the breathing difficulties that come with thunderstorm asthma would be enough for a patient to require testing for coronavirus.
"Thunderstorm asthma is a tricky one because the nature of it (involves respiratory problems), he said. "If we have hundreds of turning up with it, we would likely have to test them for COVID.
"It could put stress the system if (the season) comes like it has in the last few years.
Dr Mahony said having a strategy to deal with hay fever or thunderstorm asthma was important.
"People with asthma usually have good relationship with their GP or whoever is in charge of their management plan," he said.
University of Melbourne school of bioscience associate professor Ed Newbigin who runs the Melbourne Pollen Count said this year's pollen season would be similar to last year.
"The wet start, followed by a good autumn break, helps with pollens in pasture grasses," he said. "That is the main thing that causes hay fever and thunderstorm asthma.
"At the moment but that is most likely due to tree pollen."
Bendigo doctor Louise Manning said people should not attribute coronavirus-like symptoms to pollen season.
"People who are already hay fever sufferers would be more inclined to say 'it's just hay fever," she said. "The main symptom you are unlikely to get with COVID but with hay fever is itchy, watery eyes. If you're not sure and you don't get seasonal hay fever, have a chat with with your GP."
Dr Mahony said it will be a personal judgement call for many hay fever sufferers as to whether they decide to get tested.
"Each individual has to consider if their symptoms they have got are out of the ordinary," he said.
"If it is itchy eyes and a runny nose, more likely it's hay fever. If you're also coughing, have a sore throat, fever, loss of taste and any diarrhea, that would be unusual for hay fever.
"If your usual treatments aren't (working), the simplest treatment is to get tested."