Thunderstorms can provoke asthma symptoms in patients with allergic sensitisation particularly during pollen season, imposing major burdens on health services at all levels. GPs play an important role in identifying and managing at-risk patients and preparing for thunderstorm asthma events and other environmental disasters.
- Thunderstorm asthma is potentially life-threatening.
- Almost all patients who experience thunderstorm asthma in Australia have allergic sensitisation to ryegrass pollen.
- Some people who experience thunderstorm asthma have not previously been diagnosed with asthma.
- People with a history of wheezing and hay fever who live in southeastern Australia should be considered at-risk for thunderstorm asthma. They should: – take regular inhaled corticosteroids during the spring and early summer – have, know and follow their asthma action plan – remain indoors with windows closed before and during thunderstorms.
- General practices should review procedures to follow in the event of a thunderstorm asthma event or other external emergency.