Many people suffer from hay fever in the spring and summer as pollen levels soar. Once the grass seeds, the trees are out and Mother Nature is ticking in high gear, breathing clearly can be tricky.
And especially when pollen levels skyrocket after a storm.
In fact, pollen can become so intolerable for some individuals at this time that a term has been developed for it: thunderstorm asthma.
I know, it sounds like a character from a cartoon. It’s actually serious business, though.
And potentially fatal.
Horrifically, three otherwise healthy-looking individuals in Australia just died of thunderstorm asthma this past week. Apollo Papadopoulos, Hope Carnevali and 18-year-old Omar Moujalled all succumbed tragically to this seasonal power.
How does it happen? According to the Asthma Foundation of Australia, on high pollen days with high humidity, if a thunderstorm occurs pollen-particularly rye grass pollen, in the above cases- absorbs water.
The pieces of pollen then break into thousands of tiny pieces. They are so small that they aren’t caught in human nose hairs, but go straight to the lungs.
For individuals with asthma, and even some without, this is a nightmare.
People with severe, or “brittle asthma” are more likely to suffer the extremes of thunderstorm asthma.
What can you do about it?
Take anti-histamines, nasal sprays and anti-allergen eye drops to keep controlled allergy treatment going throughout allergy season. It’ll lessen your chances of having a severe attack.
Maintaining control as best as possible over underlying asthma conditions at all times, can also help.
Cases of thunderstorm asthma, while rare, have been reported in the U.S, Canada, the UK and Italy.