People may experience worsening asthma and hay fever symptoms when grass pollen is in the air. The grass pollen season also carries an increased risk of asthmatic thunderstorms. The condition known as “thunderstorm asthma” is thought to be brought on by an unusual confluence of factors, including a significant amount of grass pollen in the air and a particular kind of thunderstorm. People who suffer from asthma or hay fever may experience severe asthma symptoms when exposed to this.
If you have asthma exacerbated by thunderstorms, you should do all you can to limit your contact with asthma triggers. The first step is determining the source of your coughing, wheezing, and labored breathing. Even though there is no cure for thunderstorm asthma, there are things you can do to keep your symptoms under control and prevent an attack from happening.
What is thunderstorm asthma?
When high pollen levels coincide with a thunderstorm, an individual may get an asthma attack, known as “thunderstorm asthma.” Very specific weather circumstances are needed for thunderstorm asthma to occur, as it’s rare for thunderstorms to arise during times of high pollen levels. People with asthma are more likely to experience a sudden attack during the spring and summer months when grass pollen levels are high, and the weather can be humid, dry, stormy, and windy.
Pollen grains can burst during spring thunderstorms, releasing minute bits of pollen carried by the wind. Inhaling even a small amount of pollen can set off an asthma attack in someone allergic to it. Asthma symptoms during a thunderstorm can include wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing, and coughing. Rapid escalation to potentially fatal symptoms is possible.
How to control thunderstorm asthma?
- Learn and Avoid Your Triggers
Take note of the time and place you have symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing. If you can identify the specific factors that bring on an asthma attack, you will have a better chance of avoiding those triggers in the future. Always look for signs such as wheezing, chest tightness, breathing difficulties, and coughing.
- Keep Your Home Clean
Dust mites are microscopic parasites that can be found in almost every home’s upholstered goods, carpeting, and bedding. However, if you or your child has asthma, breathing in the droppings of these creatures might make the condition more severe. You won’t be able to get rid of them completely, but there are several things you can do around your house that will significantly cut down on their population.
- Pay Attention to the Air
Dry, cold air can aggravate respiratory issues. Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth while venturing outside on cold days. If you have chest tightness or wheezing when exercising outdoors in the winter, consider switching to a gym routine or taking a fitness class indoors.
If you suffer from allergies, it’s best to avoid going outside during peak pollen times. Maintaining a record of the air quality in your area is easy to do at any time of the year. People with respiratory illnesses should limit their time outside on days when ozone or pollution levels are high.
- Keep your Medical Plan ready
If you have asthma, you should take your preventer medication consistently as prescribed by your doctor, always have your relief medication (a puffer) on you, and make sure you have a personal asthma action plan that is up to date. If you suffer from hay fever, consider booking an appointment with a health practitioner who could assist you with some natural solutions for hay fever (there are plenty of options available)
- Avoid being outdoors
If feasible, you should stay inside when there is a chance of thunderstorms, particularly during the wind gusts that arrive before the storm. People who may be susceptible to allergic reactions and thunderstorm asthma should be mindful that proximity to weather and environmental circumstances might contribute to worsening symptoms and will need to take appropriate precautions. When you are inside, make sure all of your doors and windows are shut, and if you have your air conditioner running, switch it to the recirculation setting. You can check the weather forecast and pollen count on websites such as Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) site or the BOM Weather app
Learning Buteyko breathing will help you to minimise asthma attacks and know what to do if they come on. Buteyko breathing also helps with allergies such as hay fever. Changing the way that you breathe will have a big impact on your health. I regularly run online and in person (Sunshine Coast) breathing courses to educate people how to breathe for optimal health. There are nine published studies looking at Buteyko Breathing as a treatment for asthma, including the study collaborated on by Patrick McKeown with the University of Limerick. The studies showed a significant improvement to asthma control and some trials showed a 70% reduction in the need for asthma reliever medication and a 50% reduction in the need for asthma steroid medication within 12 to 24 weeks (Source: Buteyko Clinic International)
Taking care of your asthma or hay fever and making sure you have a plan in place for when an emergency arises are two things you can do to help protect yourself from the adverse effects of thunderstorm asthma. Visit your health practitioner to build a treatment plan for hay fever or an asthma action plan. Your plan ought to detail the preventative drugs or herbs you can take to control your dis-ease and the steps you need to take in the case of an asthma attack. Your treatment plan should be reviewed frequently with your attending physician.
Learning Buteyko breathing will also greatly improve your asthma symptoms and you may find that you don’t need (rescue) medication as often.