Thunderstorm asthma and spirometry resources for primary care

Thunderstorm asthma and spirometry resources for primary care

21 November, 2022

Melbourne experienced the world’s largest epidemic thunderstorm asthma event on 21 November 2016, with thousands of people developing breathing difficulties in a very short period of time. Following this event, the now Department of Health and Aged Care developed a multi-faceted, comprehensive Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma Program to address potential future impacts.

Grass pollen season, which typically runs from the start of October until the end of December, brings with it a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever and the chance of thunderstorm asthma.

When large numbers of people develop asthma symptoms over a short period of time, caused by high amounts of grass pollen and a certain type of thunderstorm, it is known as epidemic thunderstorm asthma.

Health professionals including general practitioners, pharmacists and nurses have a vital role to play in reducing the risk to the community from epidemic thunderstorm asthma events.

Optimising diagnosis, clinical care and self-management of asthma and hay fever is the key to responding to the risk of epidemic thunderstorm asthma events.

Resources for health professionals

Thunderstorm asthma resources for patients

Spirometry resources for health professionals

Spirometry is the most frequently performed lung function test in General Practice.

Risk control strategies to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in pulmonary function testing, have been introduced, reviewed and amended throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidence grows and evolves.

The advice is intended to supplement local infection prevention and state, territory or national directives.

The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, Australian and New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science and the National Asthma Council Australia’s messages, reflect a precautionary approach to protect the safety of both healthcare workers and patients in a rapidly changing environment. The decision on strategies employed may vary depending on local transmission and practice environment.

This NAC information is due for Review 01 Feb 2023.

Asthma Australia has also produced a two-part video summarising these new guidelines on performing spirometry safely in primary care settings.