Can a thunderstorm cause an asthma attack? Seems like a silly concept, but some research claims that changes in airflow patterns during a storm can increase the chances for an attack. Downdrafts of cold air create thunderstorm outflows. These drafts take concentrated levels of mold spores and pollen high into the clouds moisture where they are broken down into very small particles and are released by the rain. Due to the high concentration of these particles in the air, people who are sensitive to these allergens can have severe asthma attacks called “Thunderstorm Asthma.”
Though attacks are not likely to occur every time there is a storm, certain factors such as wind patterns, temperature changes and humidity do play a role in making the “perfect storm.” Asthma symptoms can appear right before and up to 24 hours after a thunderstorm occurs so it is important to take the proper steps to protecting yourself from the high concentrations of pollen.
First, always make sure asthma is well controlled, this will help prevent an attack from occurring. It is also very important that your asthma treatment plan is up to date and albuterol rescue inhaler is available. Talk to your doctor about use of a regular allergy nasal spray, which will help block inhaled allergens. Try to avoid being outside on high pollen days, especially if the wind picks up and a thunderstorm occurs. Keeping windows closed and staying indoors before and during the storm will help reduce the amount of pollen inhaled.
Though “Thunderstorm Asthma” is uncommon, we have to remember that it could happen. If you are a part of this sensitive population, it is important to keep yourself safe. Take the steps to keep asthma under control so the next time decide to dance in the rain, it doesn’t turn into an asthma attack.