Thunderstorm Asthma: Thunderstorms are known to cause destruction to life and property, but they are also infamous for causing thunderstorm asthma in certain cases which can lead to triggering respiratory symptoms in individuals.


The largest such event occurred in 2016 in Melbourne which caused 10000 people to be affected by it. It also caused around 10 deaths due to the same.


Let us learn about Thunderstorm Asthma and its causes, and symptoms here.


What is Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma is a type of asthma that is triggered by the bursting of pollens during thunderstorms, it causes breathing problems, runny or stuffy nose and itchy eyes.


It is mainly seen in dry and dusty areas like Australia, and Kuwait. But, it is not restricted to only these areas, it is also seen in England, Iran etc.

What causes Thunderstorm Asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma is caused due to the pollen grains that burst when they absorb moisture from the environment. Upon bursting the pollens release smaller pollen grains which can invade the respiratory system.


Due to this respiratory symptoms are triggered which have symptoms like wheezing, coughing, itchiness of the eyes and hay fever. 


Thunderstorm asthma is caused mainly due to the bursting of rye grass pollen grains. The rye grass pollen grains can release up to 700 smaller pollen grains on bursting.


Thunderstorm Asthma - Symptoms

The symptoms of thunderstorm asthma are as follows:


  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Itchiness in eyes
  • Wheezing with breathing
  • Persistent Coughing


The most noticeable factor in thunderstorms asthma is that it can happen to anyone who has no previous history of asthma. But it has been seen that about 95% of people with a history of hay fever were more likely to be affected by thunderstorm asthma.


Who are at Risk?

There is a risk for everyone to be affected by thunderstorm asthma, but the probability of getting affected becomes for people with the following conditions:


  • People with pollen allergies especially those who are allergic to ryegrass.
  • People with existing asthma or any other respiratory conditions such as cold, hay fever, COPD or COVID.
  • People who are staying outdoors during the storm.
  • People staying in areas with high vegetation.
  • Children who have a history of food allergies and asthma.
  • People of Asian descent.
  • People who are exposed to air pollution, such as factory workers, and heavy metal workers.


How to Prevent Yourself from getting Thunderstorm Asthma

The following steps can help you prevent yourself from getting thunderstorm asthma:


  • Avoid going outdoors in case there is heavy rain unless it is an emergency
  • Close doors and windows to prevent the entry of pollen into the house.
  • If it is necessary to go outside, then do not forget to carry your medication
  • Plant non-allergenic plants in your home garden.



That was all about the thunderstorm asthma which we have seen is caused by the bursting of pollen grains. The best way to prevent is to avoid getting outdoors during storms and also closing doors and windows of the home.

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