What Is Thunderstorm Asthma?
Earlier this week, hundreds of people experienced serious breathing problems requiring emergency medical treatment—and three people died from their symptoms—in Australia due to a condition called "thunderstorm asthma." Thunderstorm asthma can occur when certain weather conditions develop during a period of high grass pollen counts. The condition is rare, but is thought to be under-reported.
Thunderstorm asthma can occur during a storm when heat, humidity, and grass pollen levels are high. In these conditions, pollen can break apart into thousands of microscopic particles that can be inhaled and make it difficult to breathe.
When allergens like grass pollen enter the lungs, they can cause a severe asthma attack. People with asthma and/or hay fever are at the highest risk—but thunderstorm asthma also can affect healthy people with no history of asthma.
Image Credit: Thinkstock