Asthma sufferers have to know what sparks their attacks, which means I've always known thunderstorms were one of the triggers that sets my asthma off.
At the merest hint of a lightning bolt my chest gets tight and out comes my inhaler, but if you didn't have asthma would you link any sudden breathing problems to a storm outside?
The Health Protection Agency has published a report officially recognising the link between breathing difficulties and thunderstorm occurrences - a phenomenon known as Thunderstorm Asthma .
The updrafts produced in a storm are strong enough to whip up pollen grains, fungal spores and a variety of other airborne allergens that can cause people to have attacks. Many non-asthmatics may be left confused when storms make them tight chested and render them gasping for breath. But it has been shown that the concentration of pollens and spores is high enough to even affect those without previous lung conditions, like asthma.
The study showed cases of lung-related illnesses admitted to hospital rose from 2 per cent to 17 per cent on thunderstorm days - with hayfever sufferers particularly at risk. This sudden increase in patients can create an unexpected workload for health services, but if storms are recognised as a trigger for respiratory illness then future cases can be predicted and planned for.
The report suggested implementing an early warning system, where weather reports could prompt those with pre-existing conditions to stay inside.
Posted on 24 January 2013
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