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What Is An Asthma Storm

Preparedness Pays When It Comes To The Home

Thunderstorm asthma – Overview

Safeguarding your home and contents in time for storm season doesnt need to be a difficult task, according to Hayes. Victorians can help protect their home and peace of mind this storm season by doing simple things like ensuring you have home and contents insurance cover in place, Hayes says. Comprehensive home and contents insurancepolicies include flood , storm and storm surge cover as standard, in addition to providing cover for damage and loss caused by the impact of fallen trees and branches. But dont wait for the storm to hit before doing something to protect yourself. Taking the time to do some simple jobs around the house prior to storm season can pay off.

Can It Happen In The Us

Researchers in Atlanta, Georgia, noticed a connection between asthma-related emergency room visits and thunderstorms. During their study, they found asthma visits were 3 percent higher after thunderstorms.1 They concluded there is some connection between thunderstorms and asthma.

Experts are still researching how much pollen it would take to for the U.S. to have an outbreak of thunderstorm asthma attacks. But even on a small scale, heavy rains can break up pollen, making it easier for you to breathe it in. Until we know more about thunderstorm asthma and why it happens, here are some ways you can lower your chances of having a weather-related asthma attack:

  • See a board-certified allergist to help you determine your triggers. They can help you create an asthma management plan.
  • Follow your doctors plan to keep your symptoms under control.
  • If you have allergic asthma and pollen is one of your triggers, watch the weather, especially when humidity and pollen is high.
  • Get support from others who have asthma. Asthma is easier to deal with if you have support from others after you leave the doctors office. AAFA has asthma and allergy online support groups you can join to talk to others with the same conditions.
  • Medical Review July 2017.

    Why Is Thunderstorm Asthma Life

    During a thunderstorm, some people with asthma are unprepared for the sudden onset and severity of symptoms. Respiratory allergens are a known asthma trigger. Yet the aerosolization of those allergens may create a more potent airway response.

    With a normal rainstorm, there is often a burst of pollen into the air when wind picks up. But the pollen is so saturated and heavy that it returns to the ground and lies still, causing few issues. But with thunderstorms, winds are much stronger, and pollen stays in the air longer. This increases the risk of breathing in allergens.

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    Are You At Risk

    People at risk of acute asthma flare-ups triggered by a thunderstorm include those with:

    • seasonal hay fever,
    • a history of asthma or
    • undiagnosed asthma.

    The risk of thunderstorm asthma is highest in adults who are sensitive to grass pollen and have seasonal hay fever . The worst outcomes are seen in people with poorly controlled asthma. Take the Asthma Control Test to determine your level of asthma control.

    To reduce the risk of thunderstorm asthma where it is a known trigger, it is recommended to aim for optimum asthma management year-round. This means

    • Optimising preventer use during spring thunderstorm season
    • Controlling hay fever
    • Checking pollen levels and avoiding exposure to pollen on these days where possible.

    The Cause Of The Asthma Outbreak

    Thunderstorm asthma Melbourne, Victoria: Warning issued

    For a long time it was believed that the winds of the storm had raised the ryegrass pollen grains, which would have been captured by the clouds and hydrated in them, which would make them explode. The theory, accepted even by the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, scientific publication of the American Society of Meteorology, depends on high humidity in the system something very common at the time when storms occur and, therefore, it does not serve to create a system of reliable asthma storm forecast the initial plan of the research team.

    In the quest to create a better forecasting system for this type of event, they looked for other weather conditions that could cause asthma storms. Using data from the 2016 storm, they built computer models and combined them with laboratory experiments. That was when they realized that there are several phenomena that come together to crush pollen grains into pieces: gusts of wind, lightning and the accumulation and discharge of static electricity caused by low humidity.

    Research indicates that one factor appears to have been crucial to the asthma storm: the lightning strikes although they did not directly hit Melbourne, but regions east and south of the city. None of the tested processes fully satisfy the conditions for creating an alert system, says Kathryn. For now, it will be necessary to monitor storms associated with strong gusts of wind, while tracking the levels of pollen in the atmosphere.

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    Is There A Warning For Dust Storms

    If a dust storm is spotted in your area, your local National Weather Service forecast office will issue a dust storm warning. Scientists can also use weather satellites to catch the first signs of a dust storm to help forecasters give an even earlier warning.

    Although its hard to miss dust storms on the ground, they can be difficult to spot from space. Thats because the dust is often the same color as the ground below, so the storm blends in with its surroundings.

    However, the weather satellites of the GOES-R Series have an instrument that can spot dust storms. The instrument, called the Advanced Baseline Imager , is like a camera that takes pictures with many different filters. By combining and comparing information from these different types of pictures, scientists can spot the beginnings of a dust storm. This allows earlier warnings, which can keep cars, airplanes and people safe.

    This animation, created with data from the GOES-16 weather satellite, shows blowing dust over New Mexico and Texas on April 13, 2018. The blowing dust is shown in dark magenta. Credit: NOAA/NESDIS/CIRA

    Who Is At Risk Of Taa

    During the epidemic of thunderstorm-associated asthma , characteristically, the patients were young atopic adults. A high prevalence of atopy was also a feature of similar outbreaks. In a significant number of the patients, the episode was the first known attack of asthma. Most gave a history of asthma, but were probably not on prophylaxis with steroid inhalers. A history of hay fever and allergy to rey grass were found to be strong predictors for asthma exacerbation during thunderstorms. These are consistent with the hypothesis that TAA is related to aero-allergens as well as the effect of weather. Subjects allergic to pollen who are in the path of thunderstorm are likely to inhale air which is heavily loaded with pollen allergen and consequently experience an acute airway asthmatic response.

    TAA seems to have had a benign course in most patients in the epidemic alluded to, as they did not require hospital admission. However, there should be no complacency in the treatment of many patients presenting to A & E departments with acute asthma.

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    Can A Thunderstorm Trigger An Asthma Attack

    • Health & Wellness
    • Lung Health and Diseases

    There are few things as ominous as thunder. It says there’s a storm coming, or somewhere lightning has struck. But can a thunderstorm actually make you sick? The answer is yes! A recent study looked at the rare phenomenon called “thunderstorm asthma,” and under the right conditions, a thunderstorm can actually trigger an asthma attack.

    The first recognized occurrences of “thunderstorm asthma” were in 1983 in Birmingham, England, and in 1987 in Melbourne, Australia, when violent thunderstorms and associated high pollen counts seemed to have been connected to a widespread wave of asthma attacks. Since that time, a number of other cases have been reported in England and Italy. In the fall of 2016, a similar band of strong thunderstorms moved across southeastern Australia and apparently triggered another rash of asthma attacks. In Melbourne, eight people died and more than 8,000 went to the emergency room. Clearly, this was no flukeand it was serious.

    Finally, gusty winds can redistribute these highly concentrated, irritating particles in the area around the storm. If this happens near a large population center, like Melbourne, Australia, you have all the ingredients for a “perfect storm,” capable of causing severe asthma attacks in people who are sensitive to these allergens.

    What Can I Do To Protect Myself This Pollen Season

    Thunderstorm asthma – Asthma

    Epidemic thunderstorm asthma events are uncommon and dont occur every year. However, its important for everyone in south-east Australia to know about epidemic thunderstorm asthma and what they can do to help protect themselves if an event does occur.

    Everyone in the community should also know the signs and symptoms of asthma, and know the 4 steps of asthma first aid so they know what to do if someone is having an asthma attack.

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    Thunderstorm Asthma History In Australia

    Deakin University say there are four recorded thunderstorm asthma episodes: 1987, 1989, 2010 and 2016. Associate Professor Suphioglu and his team at Deakin AIRwatch in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences aim to combat the phenomenon through their research.

    According to Melbourne respiratory physician Dr Nick Antoniades, thunderstorm asthma events have been far more common. According to this article he said: These have all occurred in November, including in 1984, 1987, 1989, 2003, 2010, 2011. The numbers of people presenting to the emergency department have ranged between 30 to 532. Dr Nick also said noted that during the 2016 episode the numbers spiked significantly to 3,270 patients. He is the director of Melbourne Respiratory and Sleep Services and consultant respiratory/sleep physician at Austin Health. The same article also mentions other reported Australian episodes including Wagga Wagga in 1997, Newcastle in 1998, and Canberra in 2014.

    It Seems As If Melbourne Are Involved In Some Strange Allergy Experiment On A Grand Scale

    In August last year Melbourne was called the food allergy capital of the world by researchers. It is also the city where raw milk access is the most severely restricted and enforced in Australia. Since 1 January 2015 in Victoria new regulation require a bitter agent added to raw milk sold to discourage consumption. There is also the threat of a fine of up to $60,000 for supplying or feeding it to your family. It is also the city where dairy farmers who supplied the black market were severely scared off from doing so. None of the other Australian cities have experienced similar enforcement of raw milk prohibition. Raw ‘bath milk’ access continues in some other states to this day. It seems like authorities want Melbourne to be without raw milk access, unless it comes from farmer’s own cows. Melbournians find this a huge obstacle.

    Politicians and the dairy industry were understandably concerned about raw ‘bath milk’ being consumed for about 10 years in Victoria. They may also have reasoned that raw ‘bath milk’ could affect the perception of the milk going to China, or confidence in Australian dairy were at risk of suffering. But now Australian citizens are suffering. Many say they are paying the price with returning health problems. Many raw milk supporters say they need their raw milk for its therapeutic benefits. ARMM estimates that weekly sales of bath milk in Victoria stood at about 17,000 litres per week in 2014. There is huge demand.

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    Health Conditions That May Mimic Asthma

    A variety of illnesses can cause some of the same symptoms as asthma. For example, cardiac asthma is a form of heart failure in which the symptoms mimic some of the symptoms of regular asthma.

    Vocal cord dysfunction is another asthma mimic. Many recent reports have drawn attention to a peculiar syndrome in which abnormal vocal cords cause wheezing that is frequently misdiagnosed as asthma. This is most common in girls and young women who have loud and dramatic episodes of wheezing that do not respond to medications that open the airways.

    Smolley, L. Breathe Right Now, Dell, 1999.

    Bruce, D. The Sinus Cure, Ballantine, 2007.

    Schachter, N. Life and Breath, Broadway Books, 2003.

    American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Distinguishing Between Asthma and Heart Disease,” “Vocal Cord Dysfunction in Children,” “Occupational Asthma: Tips to Remember.”

    American Lung Association: “Facts About Hay Fever.”

    American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: âAsthma Attack.â

    Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: âAsthma,â âAsthma Action Plan,â âThunderstorms and Asthma: An Unexpected Connection.â

    National Asthma Council Australia: âThunderstorm Asthma,â âThunderstorm Asthma Advice — Those Who âWheeze and Sneezeâ Urged to Take Extra Care.â

    Asthma Australia: âThunderstorm Asthma.â

    Victoria State Government, Better Health Channel: âEpidemic Thunderstorm Asthma.â

    National Asthma Council Australia: âBe Prepared For Thunderstorm Asthma.â

    Recognising Hay Fever Symptoms


    View the Hay fever and thunderstorm asthma page for the transcript.

    Around one in 4 people with hay fever also have asthma, and it is important to recognise that pollen can trigger asthma as well as hay fever symptoms.

    People with hay fever may experience one or more of the following common symptoms:

    • runny nose
    • sneezing
    • itchy, watery eyes.

    These symptoms mean that a persons eyes and upper airways are affected. Hay fever does not include symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightness, which are asthma symptoms.

    If you have hay fever and also develop symptoms such as wheeze, shortness of breath or chest tightness, see your GP.

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    What Do I Do If I Have An Asthma Attack

    If you or a loved one is having an asthma attack and the symptoms donât get better quickly after following the asthma action plan, follow the “red zone” or emergency instructions and contact your doctor or right away. You need urgent medical attention.

    1. Give asthma first aid.

    If the person doesn’t have an asthma plan:

    • Sit them upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.
    • If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.
    • If the person doesnât have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone elseâs. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone else’s inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

    2. Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible.

    • Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.
    • Insert the inhaler into the spacer.
    • Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.
    • Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.
    • Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.
    • Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

    3. Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

    4. Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

    5. Monitor the person until help arrives.

    • Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement it could mean asthma is getting worse.
    • Do not assume that the personâs asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

    6. Follow up.

    It Would Be An Awful Tragedy If Nine People Died And We Learnt Nothing

    In part 2 of The Killer Storm story Tara Brown speaks to experts about the ryegrass, its pollen and the unique circumstances that led to the 2016 event. The investigation say that ryegrass pastures west and north of Melbourne were involved. According to this article evidence suggest that thunderstorm asthma start with perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne, an introduced species from the colonial days. It is the dominant flowering grass between October and December. It’s on Melbourne nature strips, sports fields, in backyards and in farmland from the city’s outskirts to the Western Districts.

    Image:Lolium perenne click to enlarge, image via Wikimedia Commons.

    In the dairy industry for example growing ryegrass is encouraged because research show it is a high energy food to increase milk production. This focus on high yield have become a necessity in the dairy industry because farmers are struggling. Dairy Australia’s website say: “perennial ryegrass pastures have been, and will continue to be, the mainstay of pasture-based dairy farming in southern Australia in the foreseeable future.” If this ryegrass is causing the crisis, it is perhaps useful that all farmers return to diverse species pasture for their animals, instead of growing more ryegrass to maximise profit and yield.

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    Thunderstorms And Asthma: An Unexpected Connection

    In November 2016, a surprising event occurred in Melbourne, Australia. During an outbreak of thunderstorms, thousands of people had sudden asthma attacks around the same time. The strange weather event overwhelmed emergency facilities and personnel. Nine people died from the event. The phenomenon is called thunderstorm asthma.

    Experts in Australia and Europe have been studying thunderstorm asthma for years. But we dont hear much about it in the United States. Does that mean Americans wont experience it?

    The U.S. hasnt had a widespread outbreak of thunderstorm asthma like Melbourne had, but many with asthma, especially allergic asthma, complain about their symptoms getting worse during thunderstorms.

    What Is Thunderstorm Asthma

    Thunderstorm Asthma

    Thunderstorm asthma is triggered by a combination of grass pollen in the air and certain thunderstorm conditions.

    It can occur when pollen grains are drawn up into the clouds as a thunderstorm forms. The pollen grains absorb water, swell and burst open. Particles containing pollen allergens are released and are so small that they can be breathed into the lungs. The weather conditions can push these tiny particles down to ground level then along the ground in the winds that come ahead of the rain.

    Thunderstorm asthma usually affects people in the windy period before the rain starts. It usually occurs in spring and early summer.

    Even people who have never had asthma before can be affected. If symptoms become severe or life-threatening, call triple zero and ask for an ambulance say it is an asthma emergency.

    Watch this video from Better Health Channel about thunderstorm asthma. It’s also available with subtitles in languages other than English on the Health Translations website.

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