It’s common knowledge that the season can affect allergies and asthma. In spring the flowers are blooming and doing their thing to make us sneeze and feel all stuffed up. What I didn’t know, however, was that thunderstorms in particular can also trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. They call it Thunderstorm Asthma.

The good thing about this strange phenomenon is that it’s uncommon. The theory is that pollen grains get sucked up into the storm and then some of those grains burst, releasing particles of pollen into the wind that occurs before the storm. No one is one hundred percent sure though. Unfortunately, the particles resulting from this are small enough to get deep into the lungs and trigger asthma symptoms. This event can also cause people who have never had a history of asthma to be affected by asthmatic symptoms for a short while.

The good thing is that preparing for an event like this is really no different than preparing for the allergy season in general. Have an asthma action plan—basically, know what you’re going to do if you have an asthma attack. Keep your reliever medication ready and available and react if you think you’re going to have an asthma attack, don’t just wait to be midway through an attack before doing something. If you can, keep an eye on the pollen count for the day and when storms are expected. There’s no way of knowing which storms will cause an asthma attack, so you should avoid the wind coming from a storm unless necessary.

Now, most of this applies to people who have had asthma (past or present) and people with seasonal hay fever regardless of asthma history. And most of this only applies during allergy season, but it’s still good to know for the sake of your friends and family, or yourself. You never know, you might have asthma or hay fever without even knowing it.

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