MILLIONS of Brits are at risk of 'thunderfever', experts say.
After storms hit the country today, Brits with asthma are more likely to suffer a dangerous attack.
However, the storms' effects could last longer for some asthma and hay fever sufferers because pollen in the air is broken up into smaller particles.
GP at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Neel Patel says thunder fever is the result of "high winds drawing more pollen into the air".
These smaller smaller particles can get deeper into the airways in the lungs, triggering asthma symptoms.
He added: "The air can feel very close and humid before a storm.
"For people with asthma, this can trigger a tight chest, cough and difficulty breathing."
In the UK, around 5.4million people have asthma.
And every 10 seconds somebody in the UK has a life-threatening asthma attack, also known as an asthma exacerbation.
Although most are not fatal, asthma attacks kill three people in the UK each day, according to Government figures.
UK Health Security Agency data shows there was a spike in thunderstorm-related asthma emergency hospital cases on Sunday, June 11.
The rise was equivalent to the peak numbers for asthma seen during winter.
The Dr Neel warns the current thundery weather could cause a further surge in cases.
What are the 4 symptoms of 'thunderfever'?
The symptoms of thunderstorm asthma are the same as those of asthma.
According to Asthma and Lung, these signs include:
- when the blue reliever isn't helping, or it's need more than every four hours
- wheezing a lot, have a very tight chest, or coughing a lot
- breathlessness and finding it difficult to walk or talk
- breathing is getting faster and it feels like you can't get your breath in properly.
The ways to prevent a 'thunderfever' asthma attack
If you have both asthma and hay fever, monitor the weather forecast and be aware of when a thunderstorm is expected.
And when a storm is forecast, Dr Neel suggests you follow this advice:
Keep your inhaler handy
If you have asthma, it’s a good idea to always have your reliever asthma inhaler close at hand.
But it’s even more important when thunderstorms are forecast, the expert said.
Have an asthma action plan
Most people with asthma will have an asthma plan.
This details which medicines you can take to prevent attacks, what to do if your symptoms are getting worse and the emergency action to take in the event of an asthma attack
Dr Neel said: “Ensure people you spend a lot of time with are familiar with your action plan and keeping a copy on your person is always a good idea - but especially when storms are forecast.”
Of course, the pollen concentration will be greatest in the air outside.
"Stay indoors with the windows closed as much as possible before, during and after the storm," he explained.
Wear a mask outside
If you have to go outdoors, wearing a mask could help.
"Although not much research has been done into the effectiveness of wearing a mask, it’s thought this can help filter out some of the pollen particles from the air you inhale," the GP added.
Avoid other triggers
“Before, during and after a storm, avoid anything that you know worsens your symptoms," he said.
Take your usual medicine
“You should continue taking your usual medication, even if you don’t yet feel symptoms worsening," the doctor explained.
Common asthma treatments include preventer inhalers, reliever inhalers and tablets.