The National Asthma Council Australia is calling on healthcare professionals to mark National Asthma Week by preparing the millions of Australians with asthma for pollen season.
Launching today, the week also heralds the start of spring, which brings fresh challenges for the three in four people with asthma who also have allergic rhinitis, due to increased triggers such as grass and other pollens in the air.
National Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy says it’s crucial for health professionals to inform patients about the connection between allergic rhinitis and asthma, particularly as thunderstorm asthma season looms.
“People who have allergic rhinitis (either with or without known asthma), are sensitive to ryegrass pollen or have poorly controlled asthma are at heightened risk of a flare-up during storms in spring and need to proactively manage their symptoms,” said Ms Brophy.
According to the National Asthma Council’s treatment guidelines, the Australian Asthma Handbook, prevention of thunderstorm asthma in individuals is based on: year-round asthma control; preventive inhaled corticosteroid treatment; avoiding exposure to thunderstorms on days with high ryegrass pollen levels; and ensuring appropriate access to relievers during grass pollen season.
“Health professionals can help patients keep their symptoms under control by reviewing their asthma and allergy management and making sure written asthma action plans are up to date,” said Ms Brophy.
The National Asthma Council provides a suite of evidence-based, best practice resources for health professionals including the Allergic Rhinitis Treatment Chart, Thunderstorm Asthma Information Paper, and new tool the Allergic Rhinitis Pad. The Allergic Rhinitis Pad helps general practitioners develop a treatment plan for managing allergic rhinitis in patients with asthma and is a handy resource for pharmacists assisting patients with treatment options.
As ryegrass pollen season hits from October to December in south-eastern Australia, carrying an increased risk of thunderstorm asthma, the National Asthma Council will show up-to-date national pollen forecasts on its website from October 1.