Can thunderstorms cause asthma

Weather-related asthma is easy to confuse with other kinds of such disease. Although, the environment’s impact on our lungs’ well-being is not to be underestimated.

For uncertain reasons, the earliest record of “thunderstorm asthma” we have dates back to the 1980s, which is surprisingly late.

Nevertheless, the problem is as urgent as ever. In 2018, as a result of severe thunderstorms in Melbourne, almost 10 thousand suffered asthma attacks. Obviously, it does not appear to be a coincidence.

If you suffer from chronic asthma, there are a number of precautions you ought to take to ensure your safety in case of a thunderstorm.

What causes thunderstorm asthma?

Such kind of asthma is known to cause or worsen your condition during or immediately after certain meteorological processes. People with chronic asthma are typically exposed to such influence, but it is people with seasonal allergic rhinitis who are especially in danger.

For thunderstorm asthma to take place, a unique set of processes must take place. To understand this phenomenon better, let us have a look at what effects rain causes. It is known to reduce amounts of pollen in the air, which results in making asthma attacks less likely among the population.

In contrast, here is what happens during a thunderstorm:

  • Cold downflows accumulate pollen and dust.
  • If humidity is high, such air particles are concentrated in clouds.
  • There, the particles are broken down into smaller pieces by various factors.
  • Wind flows concentrate the invisible particles into large clouds.

Therefore, as you can see, people sensitive to allergic triggers are likely to be in danger during such processes.

Possible solutions

Although thunderstorm asthma may seem like an issue of secondary importance in the list of dangers to public health, it is still worth paying attention to. The nature of the problem suggests that it is not likely to bring constant harm in large amounts, as, for instance, health diseases or overall pollution of the atmosphere do. Nevertheless, if all the factors come together, and a thunderstorm actually strikes in densely populated areas, healthcare facilities are often incapable of reacting to it properly. They are not equipped nor prepared for such a flow of patients with severe asthma attacks, and events like Melbourne, 2016, are likely to take place.

Thus, in order to avoid the possibility of hospitals being overflown with asthmatics, it is advisable to develop a system capable of responding to certain triggers and possibly warning medical facilities, as well as the risk group, of incoming dangers.

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