Urgent thunderstorm warning to millions of Brits as conditions could bring ‘unseasonal spike’ in asthma attacks | The Sun

Urgent thunderstorm warning to millions of Brits as conditions could bring ‘unseasonal spike’ in asthma attacks | The Sun

June 17, 2023

EXPERTS have issued an urgent warning to millions of Brits – as thunderstorms could bring an "unseasonal spike" in asthma attacks.

The UK Health and Security Agency reported that last Sunday there was a sharp increase in thunderstorm-related asthma emergency attendances – equalling peak activity for asthma during winter.

Now charity Asthma and Lung UK has shared its advice for how to avoid an asthma attack during the yellow warning thunderstorm tomorrow.

Those who were particularly affected were in the 15 to 44-year-old age bracket, and those in the North West, West Midlands and South West of England.

Asthma + Lung UK says this is likely to be due to a combination of high pollen levels, air pollution, strong winds and heavy rain during the warmer weather, which all combine to create a reaction dubbed ‘thunderstorm asthma’.

Thunderstorm asthma occurs when high winds draw higher levels of pollen and pollution particles into the atmosphere.

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Then, when the pollen comes into contact with water from rain, it breaks down into even smaller particles that, when breathed in, can get deeper into the airways and trigger asthma symptoms.

Combined with pollen and air pollution too, this creates a triple threat situation for those with asthma.

Emma Rubach, Head of Health Advice at Asthma + Lung UK, said:
“More than five million people in the UK have asthma and changes in weather, pollen, air pollution and thunderstorms are all triggers for the condition.

"This data from the UKHSA shows that thunderstorms coincided with an unseasonal spike in people ending up in hospital with their asthma.

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“People with asthma who have hay fever can experience much more severe symptoms during thunderstorms.

"This is because thunder breaks pollen into smaller particles, which can then be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing wheezing, coughing, a tight chest and shortness of breath.

She added: "If there is also higher pollution in the atmosphere – which tends to be the case when the weather is warm – this is an added threat.

“The good news is there are steps people can take to reduce the impact of thunderstorm asthma.

"Firstly, they should take their preventer inhaler as prescribed, and should also make sure they are taking antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, if needed, to help control their pollen allergy.

"They should also keep their reliever inhaler with them in case of emergencies, as this relaxes the muscles in the airways and helps to relieve sudden asthma symptoms.

“We’d also advise staying indoors during thunderstorms if possible, and on hot, stormy days keeping inhaler medications in cool, dry areas at home and in a dry cool bag when outdoors as they may not work as well when exposed to hot temperatures or damp environments.”

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