RACGP: Make sure you have your thunderstorm asthma plan in place

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is reminding patients to have a thunderstorm asthma plan at the ready.

Thunderstorm asthma is caused by large amounts of whole pollen grains being pulled up into the clouds of an evolving thunderstorm. Small pollen allergen particles are released into the air in the cold dry outflows from the storm and arrive at ground level where they are breathed into people’s lungs.

The RACGP’s Thunderstorm asthma fact sheetfeatures useful information for GPs, practice staff and patients on the condition.

This week there are strong warnings about thunderstorm asthma risk as the pollen count has reached extreme levels and the potential of thunderstorms loom over Melbourne. The forecast is particularly severe in the west of the state.

Acting RACGP President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that there was no time to lose.

“October to December is thunderstorm asthma season and right now parts of the country are at high risk,” he said.

“Those at increased risk of thunderstorm asthma are thought to be people with a history of asthma, undiagnosed asthma, seasonal allergic rhinitis as well as people with a rye grass or pollen allergy.

“Just because you have not had thunderstorm asthma before that does not mean that you are out of the woods.

“People with allergic rhinitis who have never experienced asthma before can experience bronchospasm during certain thunderstorms. So please take this seriously because thunderstorm asthma can strike without warning.”

The Acting RACGP President said that patients should consult their GP and have a plan in place.

“Please make sure you are prepared because this condition can be deadly,” he said.

“There is no need to panic but it is vital to consult with your GP on how to best manage your condition if you are a person at increased risk of thunderstorm asthma.

“Talk to your GP about potentially developing an asthma action plan. That includes people with allergic rhinitis or a rye grass or pollen allergy who have not been diagnosed with asthma previously.

“All of those steps can make all the difference so please reach out to your GP if you are at increased risk. Do not delay, your GP is there to help.”

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