If you've noticed that your asthma symptoms get worse during bad rainstorms, you're not alone.  Researchers have long recognized the link that exists between asthma and weather, with thunderstorms seeming to a particularly big trigger for this condition. Some people call this phenomenon thunderstorm-induced asthma. But until recently, the exact mechanism to explain the asthma and weather connection has not been clear.

The Relationship between Asthma and Weather

As many as 20 million Americans today suffer from chronic asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. And the numbers have been on the rise in the past few decades, prompting researchers to explore possible reasons why.

Asthma attacks typically occur as the result of inflamed airways, which make it difficult to pass air into and out of the lungs. The cause of this inflammation can be traced back to a number of factors, including thunderstorms. A recent study published in CHEST medical journal helps to clarify more about the asthma and weather reaction and what prompts it to happen.

The Thunderstorm Trigger

For the first time ever, researchers examined asthma and weather in the Southeastern part of the U.S. to see what patterns exist. To this end, they explored the relationship between weather conditions and asthma-related hospital admissions in the Atlanta area. When examining the data, researchers were able to confirm that there is indeed a clear increase in emergency room visits on days following thunderstorms. While the percentage increase was not that large, it was still very meaningful, the experts stress, helping to build the case that thunderstorms and asthma attacks are indeed connected. For many asthma suffers, this finding is quite significant, confirming what they, and their doctors, have long recognized first-hand.

How it Happens

Logically, you might think that a rainstorm would wash the air clear of pollen and other allergens and make your asthma symptoms better. Actually, though, the asthma and weather connection is much more complicated. Researchers say that the rainwater may in fact rupture the grains of pollen and cause them to release more allergen particles into the air. Further, the thunderstorm winds can help to spread these triggers, making people with asthma experience a worsening of symptoms as a result of inhaling these particles. Researchers plan to continue to explore the relationship further and hope their findings will help with the development of new treatment approaches for asthma and weather.

What You Can Do

In the meantime, if you find that your asthma symptoms seem to kick in after a thunderstorm, it is important to take steps to protect yourself. Use your asthma control medications as directed by your doctor and always carry your fast-acting relief inhaler. In addition, consider staying indoors with the air conditioner running whenever possible following a thunderstorm to reduce your chances of having your symptoms triggered by the weather conditions.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)


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