What Is Thunderstorm Asthma Explained Simply
Thunderstorm Asthma sounds like something from a Sci-fi plot and requires rare and incredibly specific weather conditions to manifest. Thankfully, thunder storms with the perfect combination of factors when pollen spores in the air are at an extreme concentration rarely occur naturally.
When the conditions necessary for thunderstorm asthma to occur manifest in highly populated areas, it is possible for a large number of people who have never had any form of asthma to be affected by thunderstorm asthma suddenly and without any prior symptoms or existing asthma conditions.
Thunderstorm asthma events manifest predominantly in rural areas, but with the right wind conditions, they can travel towards large metropolitan areas like Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney.
Identifying The Symptoms Of Thunderstorm Asthma
Symptoms associated with thunderstorm asthma are no different to normal asthma and can include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and dry, persistent coughing produced by an irritated throat.
Any of the symptoms can escalate quickly to become a life-threatening medical emergency requiring First Aid treatment. If you have existing asthma symptoms, allergies to grass pollen, allergic rhinitis hay fever or known pollen allergies, then having an asthma action plan is strenuously recommended!
Known Causes Of Thunderstorm Asthma
Mother Nature has her secrets, and the true cause of the phenomenon called thunderstorm asthma is not definitively known. That does not stop theories that attempt to explain strange events.
At the time of writing, the belief is that high humidity and moisture levels in the air during a thunder storm swell pollen grains, causing them to burst into even smaller fragments of pollen, thus increasing the density of the existing pollen.
The volume of pollen hasn’t changed; merely been splintered into smaller pieces that fill the surrounding space.
Think of pollen as a sheet of glass. When complete, it takes up the window space only. When you shatter the glass, it fragments into thousands of splinter pieces and travels in all directions, covering a significantly larger area than an intact sheet of glass did.
Airflows and wind conditions also play a very specific role in creating thunderstorm asthma. Exposure to the high concentrations of tiny pollen fragments inhaled appears to be the cause of thunderstorm asthma in all people who become affected.
Who Is At Risk Of Getting Thunderstorm Asthma
In theory, everyone has the potential to be at risk of suffering from symptoms of thunderstorm asthma if the exact storm conditions appear. People with asthma, lung conditions, allergies to flowers and grasses, and people with hay fever all have higher odds of being severely affected by an asthma thunder storm.
Risk Periods For Thunderstorm Asthma
Spring into summer, when the plants, flowers, and grasses are out in bloom, is the potential danger period for thunderstorm asthma.
Being outside when pollen levels are high, and thunder storms are forecast, could increase the risk of conditions leading to thunderstorm asthma; however, it is unlikely but not impossible.
Decrease Your Risk Of Having A Thunder Storm Asthma Episode
Environmental conditions associated with thunder storms and asthma are unpredictable and, in most parts of the country, rare, so you cannot definitively decrease your risk of having a thunderstorm asthma episode specifically.
One way of reducing your risk of having any form of asthma episode is by managing any known asthma, allergies or hay fever conditions, especially during the spring and summer months.
You should see your doctor about medications to manage your symptoms if you have hay fever. If you have asthma, use your preventer medication regularly as directed by your doctor, and always carry your Ventolin puffer with you.
If you have not been diagnosed with asthma but wheeze and sneeze during spring, see your doctor for an assessment to determine if you have asthma or related medical conditions.
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