Thunderstorm Asthma

Thunderstorm Asthma

Asthma symptoms may be aggravated during thunderstorm

Thunderstorm Asthma:

In this condition, a person’s asthma symptoms suddenly get aggravated due to thunderstorm. During some thunderstorm there may be sudden changes in the air, temperature and humidity which lead o massive release of pollen allergen into the air.

Each pollen grain contains hundreds of starch granules. Grass pollen allergens are located in these starch granules. During rainy weather or in humid environment these pollen grains absorb moisture and then suddenly burst open leading to release of hundreds of tiny pollen allergens then eventually can enter into a person’s small airways and can aggravate asthma or wheeze.

Persons who has allergic rhinitis or hay fever are usually suffer from this form of asthma. It is also true that around 1 in 4 people with allergic rhinitis also have asthma.

Few important aspect:  

  • Not all thunderstorms causes thunderstorm asthma
  • Other weather factors like humidity, temperature also play an important role.
  • Thunderstorm asthma may effect may individual without pollen allergy.
  • Apart from pollen allergen, fungal spores, humidity and temperature changes over a short period of time can also affect people with asthma and other respiratory diseases during a thunderstorm.

Most important Symptoms:

Symptoms are basically combination of symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis which include:

  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness/ chest tightness runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes.

Diagnosis of thunderstorm asthma:

A diagnosis of this condition should be considered in patient with allergic rhinitis who has asthma symptoms in pollen seasons and during thunderstorm.

Management of thunderstorm asthma:

Most important management is to treat allergic rhinitis. You have to attend to an allergist that do certain test to see whether you are allergic to grass pollen. You have to use intranasal corticosteroid sprays to control your hay fever. intranasal corticosteroid sprays are more effective that antihistamines in allergic rhinitis. Whoever they can be used together. If you are an allergic rhinitis patient and also experiencing symptoms of asthma like cough, shortness of breath, wheeze chest tightness then you have to tell your physician to make proper management protocol.

Treatments of allergic rhinitis:-


  1. Antihistamines: Most common medicine used in mild to moderate allergic reaction.

Antihistamines include:

  • Fexofenadine
  • Levocetirizine
  • Cetirizine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Desloratadine
  • Loratadine
  1. Decongestants:

Decongestants relief  stuffy nose and sinus pressure. One should use decongestant for shorter time usually for three days. Longer time can cause a rebound effect, means once you stop the medicines your symptoms will actually get worse.

Decongestants include:

  • Oxymetazoline
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Phenylephrine
  • Cetirizine with pseudoephedrine

One should be kept in mind that history of abnormal heart rhythm, heart disease, history of stroke, anxiety, a sleep disorder, high blood pressure, or bladder issues is important before commencing decongestant medication.

  1. Eye drops and nasal sprays:

Eye drops and nasal sprays can help relieve itchiness and other allergy-related symptoms for a short time. However, depending on the product, you may need to avoid long-term use.

Like decongestants, overusing certain eye drops and nose drops can also cause a rebound effect.

  1. Corticosteroids:

    Corticosteroids can help with inflammation and immune responses. These do not cause a rebound effect. Steroid nasal sprays are commonly recommended as a long-term, useful way to manage allergy symptoms. Nasal steroid medications are the most effective medications.

  2. Immunotherapy: 

    Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, or allergy shots if you have severe allergies. You can use this treatment plan in conjunction with medications to control your symptoms. These shots decrease your immune response to particular allergens over time. They do require a long-term commitment to a treatment plan.

Make sure that you are using preventer medication for asthma every day.

Do not go outside during pollen season and during thunderstorm.

Keep your door closed during windy days and thunderstorm.

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