Thunderstorm-related asthma

Published: Jul. 29, 2016 at 7:05 AM CDT
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You would think that a bit of summer rain might help allergy sufferers by washing away pollen and mold. But it turns out that sometimes violent thunderstorms can actually aggravate allergy or asthma symptoms.

Dr. Rachel Taliercio of Cleveland Clinic says it's a rare phenomenon called thunderstorm-related asthma.

"What we think happens is that allergens, such as pollen, mold and fungal spores are broken up and then spread into the air throughout the storm or because of the storm," she said.

While rain can usually help wash pollen away, the stronger winds of a thunderstorm can really blow things around.

Research has shown an increase in visits to the emergency room for asthma-related symptoms following thunderstorms, but nothing serious enough to require hospitalizations.

Dr. Taliercio says that the phenomenon is unpredictable, and that it's not overly common, but if you have asthma or other allergic conditions like hay fever, you're more likely to be susceptible.

While it's not a reason to be overly concerned, there are precautions that you can take to minimize the risk. Staying indoors during the storm and keeping windows closed can help.

Dr. Taliercio says it all comes down to being aware of what your personal triggers are for your asthma or your allergies.

"If you have recognized that changes in weather, so really hot humid weather, let's say, after a storm, your asthma gets worse, just keep that in mind, make sure you always have your rescue medication with you, might be an idea to stay indoors, so it's just another example of, if you have asthma, knowing your triggers," she said.

Dr. Taliercio says that many folks with asthma have problems with hot humid temperatures, which usually come with summer.