Thunderstorm Asthma - Be Ready

Pollen season is upon us. 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 sheet features useful information for GPs, practice staff and patients on the condition.

In the coming months, with occasional weather extremes, there will be times when the pollen count reaches extreme levels and the potential of thunderstorms looms over, you would need to activate your thrunderstorm asthma plan. For that you need to be ready.

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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 it 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.

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