Don’t take asthma lightly: phar­ma­cist

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

Spring is upon us, but for 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple in Aus­tralia the warmer weather and sunny days aren’t nec­es­sar­ily a good thing.

That is the num­ber of peo­ple in this coun­try who suf­fer from asthma.

Asthma is a chronic in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease of the lungs where air­ways be­come so ob­structed that it af­fects breath­ing.

It’s re­spon­si­ble for more than 400 deaths and 39 500 hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions a year.

Co­bram phar­ma­cist Paul Ukich said his phar­macy had al­ways treated a large num­ber of peo­ple for asthma.

‘‘We al­ways have and will prob­a­bly con­tinue to do so,’’ Mr Ukich said.

‘‘It is one of those ones where peo­ple sort of have their own minds and the guide­lines are al­ways be­ing changed.’’

The con­di­tion has been high­lighted in me­dia cir­cles in re­cent times af­ter a se­ries of se­vere weather con­di­tions, in­clud­ing South Aus­tralia’s dust storm and Vic­to­ria’s in­fa­mous thun­der­storm asthma event which led to a sud­den in­crease in asthma-re­lated out­breaks.

When it comes to man­ag­ing asthma and re­duc­ing the sever­ity of flare-ups, hav­ing in­for­ma­tion on hand is key.

Yet only one in five asthma pa­tients aged 15 years and over has a writ­ten asthma plan for man­ag­ing their con­di­tion.

‘‘For as long as I’ve been in phar­macy, peo­ple have been able to buy Ven­tolin for a quick re­lease and they think that’s all they need,’’ Mr Ukich said.

‘‘It’s com­plex, though, be­cause your lung func­tion can drop by 50 per cent be­fore you think there’s a prob­lem.’’

Mr Ukich said he al­ways aimed to pro­vide peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion about the con­di­tion.

‘‘It’s tricky be­cause all you can do is ad­vise peo­ple and hope they might take on the ad­vice. That’s what we try to do,’’ he said.

There is great po­ten­tial to im­prove the up­take of asthma man­age­ment plans with My Health Record, which pro­vides an on­line sum­mary of peo­ple’s key health in­for­ma­tion and al­lows Aus­tralians con­trol and share their health in­for­ma­tion with doc­tors, hos­pi­tals and other health­care providers.

Peo­ple can ac­cess cur­rent in­for­ma­tion, care plans and med­i­ca­tion ad­vice when­ever they’re needed.

Mr Ukich said up­dat­ing My Health Record should be ‘‘of great im­por­tance’’.

He en­cour­aged peo­ple to con­sult their GP if they find they are con­sis­tently us­ing Ven­tolin.

‘‘You try and tell peo­ple that if they need to use their Ven­tolin more than twice a week they should go back to their GP and get an asthma plan or up­date their plan,’’ he said.

‘‘You should be us­ing pre­ven­ta­tives rather than re­ly­ing on straight Ven­tolin.’’

A per­son’s shared health sum­mary gives clin­i­cians ac­cess to vi­tal in­for­ma­tion.

The safety ben­e­fits are sig­nif­i­cant — med­i­ca­tions, al­ler­gies, im­mu­ni­sa­tions and past his­tory are all im­por­tant in con­sul­ta­tions where there isn’t a pre­vi­ous clin­i­cal re­la­tion­ship.

As asthma pa­tients move through the health­care sys­tem, they can keep records of their res­pi­ra­tory state in My Health Record and share this with their clin­i­cal care providers.

By the end of 2018, a My Health Record will be cre­ated for every Aus­tralian, un­less they choose not to have one.

If peo­ple choose not to have a My Health Record, they will be able to opt out of hav­ing one cre­ated for them be­fore Novem­ber 15.

For more in­for­ma­tion about My Health Record visit www.my­healthrecord.gov.au

Be vig­i­lant: Co­bram phar­ma­cist Paul Ukich, pic­tured with asthma suf­ferer Nita Smith, is en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to be dili­gent with their con­di­tion if se­ri­ous.

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