Don’t take asthma lightly: pharmacist
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.