Thunderstorm asthma and spirometry resources for primary care

  27 September 2022  NWMPHN   

Grass pollen season brings a seasonal increase in asthma and hay fever. It also brings the chance of thunderstorm asthma. 

When a large number 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.

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.

GPs may see an increase in requests from patients needing to create or update an asthma plan. Performing spirometry – lung function tests – is complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is our list of the key resources for primary care.

Thunderstorm asthma resources for clinicians

Thunderstorm asthma resources for patients

Spirometry resources for clinicians

Early in the pandemic, peak bodies recommended the suspension of respiratory function testing, including spirometry testing, in general practice settings. Spirometry is a high-risk procedure because it requires a forced expiratory manoeuvre which could generate aerosols, with potential transmission of COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues, there is an increasing need to be able to perform spirometry in some circumstances. The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) and Australia and New Zealand Society of Respiratory Science (ANZSRS) have this year published updated guidelines for performing spirometry in primary care settings (.pdf).

Other resources include: