What is thunderstorm asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma is asthma that is triggered by a particular type of thunderstorm when there is high amounts of grass pollen in the air (typically between October and end December).

It can result in people wheezing, feeling short of breath, and tight in the chest with coughing. This can be sudden, serious, and even life threatening.

Normally grass pollen particles are about 30 microns in size and they are filtered out by the nose which is why we normally get hay fever. 

But in a thunderstorm asthma event, in Spring, those grass pollens explode into tiny particles that you can breathe down into the lungs and they can cause an asthma attack.

People who are affected by thunderstorm asthma include people who have asthma.

Other people are those with hay fever who may not have a diagnosis of asthma but they are still susceptible because they allergic to the pollen which can trigger off the thunderstorm asthma.

So people with asthma can protect themselves during the pollen season by firstly having a check with their GP just to make sure their asthma is well controlled, their medication is up to date and they have an action plan.

Someone with hay fever can protect themselves this pollen season by firstly seeing their GP to make sure their hay fever is well controlled

But also the GP can discuss with them if it’s appropriate for them to have a reliever medication you can go to a pharmacist and buy the reliever medication over the counter.

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Last updated: August 2018

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