Bad weather, health hazard. What is “storm asthma” and how does it manifest?

For people with severe allergies or asthma, bad weather can be a serious health threat.

“Storm asthma” was first reported in the 1980s in England and Australia, and cases continue to occur. Immediately after severe storms passed through Melbourne, Australia, in 2016, more than 9,000 people sought urgent medical care for asthma. Medical units were overwhelmed and at least eight people died. It is unusual, but for people with asthma, or seasonal allergies, understanding this trigger can help them stay healthy.

What is storm asthma

The term describes an asthma attack that begins or worsens after a storm. It can occur in anyone with asthma, but most often affects people with seasonal allergic rhinitis, which many people know as hay fever or allergies. Announced by runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes, seasonal allergies are often the worst in spring, summer or early fall.

Rain tends to reduce the number of pollen by cleaning the air and many people find that rainy weather tends to reduce asthma symptoms triggered by allergies. But storms can aggravate asthma due to a unique sequence of events: Cold air flows concentrate air particles, such as pollen and mold. These air particles are carried to the clouds where the humidity is high. In clouds, wind, moisture and lightning break down particles to a size that can easily penetrate the nose, sinuses and lungs. Gusts of wind concentrate these small particles so that large amounts can be inhaled.

What is the connection between asthma and storm

According to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 144 of 228 people with seasonal allergies reported suffering from asthma – about 65%. And many of the asthma attacks triggered by the storms were not easy. Almost half of the people who suffered an attack requested emergency treatment at the hospital.

Among people with seasonal allergies, risk factors for experiencing asthma include a higher number of certain blood cells (eosinophils, which tend to increase when people have allergic conditions), higher levels of expired nitric oxide. measure of lung inflammation among people with asthma).

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Not everyone with these risk factors will develop storm asthma. And even among those who do, asthma attacks will not necessarily occur with every storm. But it can be useful to know if you are among those at risk, especially if you live in an area where storms are common, writes Antena 3.

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