Summer storms can be quite exciting, but you should know that they can also trigger this respiratory condition. Find out more.

If you often sneeze during thunderstorms, you could suffer from this condition

© Max LaRochelle / unsplash

If you often sneeze during thunderstorms, you could suffer from this condition

Temperatures this summer have been up and down like a yoyo - you have to leave the house with a vest, shirt, jumper and umbrella and rotate as the day flickers from sun to rain. Quick changes in temperature often signal an oncoming storm, and studies show that people suffering with asthma can experience ‘thunderstorm asthma’ in this kind of weather.

What is thunderstorm asthma?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) states that the first recorded instance of this phenomenon dates back to 1983. People were seeking help for issues with breathing during thunderstorms, a condition now known as ‘thunderstorm asthma’.

What is the science behind it?

UKHSA gives a full break-down of changes in air pressure and pollen granules, but also admits that ‘thunderstorm asthma’ remains a bit of a mystery:

We don’t fully understand why these events trigger breathing problems and this makes it very difficult to predict when they are likely to happen.

GP Dr Neel Patel has given a more comprehensive explanation, as reported by Express. He says there are two reasons stormy weather may trigger this condition.


Dr Patel notes that thunderstorm asthma 'can occur in anybody with asthma, however, it’s most common in people who also experience hay fever’. This brings us to the first reason: windy weather picks up more pollen. Once in the moist air of a thunderstorm, the pollen granules break down into smaller particles which can then be drawn deeper into your lungs as you breathe.


The air can also feel very close and oppressive during a storm, which can bring on common asthma symptoms, such as a tight chest, coughing and difficulty breathing normally.

Read more:Here's what you need to know about your asthma during winter

What can you do to prevent it?

The British Lung Foundation has reported that around 8 million people have been diagnosed with asthma in the UK; around 12% of the population. If you are one of these people, next time there is a storm brewing you should make sure to grab your inhaler and keep it with you. Finally, you probably wouldn’t want to venture out anyway, but it is also recommended to stay indoorsand continue with your usual medication routine.

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Express: Yellow weather warning - GP warns forecasted thunderstorms may trigger asthma attacks

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