Thunderstorm Asthma


Obviously it’s my week for stories about weird an strange phenomena.  Have you ever heard of thunderstorm asthma? I hadn’t till last week when Melbourne and Wagga Wagga were hit with it.

Thunderstorm asthma is the triggering of an asthma attack by environmental conditions directly caused by a local thunderstorm. It has been proposed that during a thunderstorm, pollen grains can absorb moisture and then burst into much smaller fragments with these fragments being easily dispersed by wind. However, there is no experimental evidence for the proof of this theory. While larger pollen grains are usually filtered by hairs in the nose, the smaller pollen fragments are able to pass through and enter the lungs, triggering the asthma attack.

It was first recognised in the 1980’s in Birmingham. Since then it has been reported in London, Naples, Atlanta, Avaz, Melbourne and Wagga Wagga. Last week’s storm in Melbourne has just claimed it’s eighth victim with another person still in critical condition in intensive care.

During the storm, hospitals and ambulance services were overwhelmed with more than 8,500 attending emergency departments. It has been put down to humid weather conditions which caused pollen to burst into tiny particles that were small enough to enter the lungs, causing many people with no history of asthma or respiratory problems to experience breathing difficulties. In Melbourne 8 of them died.  Now that’s pretty serious stuff.

One man described the feeling as being like an elephant standing on his chest.

©  Raili Tanska

Image – Pixabay

18 thoughts on “Thunderstorm Asthma

  1. I’ve never heard of that, Raili. I’m not sure if I’d be affected by thunderstorm asthma, although I’m pretty certain I’m allergic to being struck by lightning.

  2. I think we’re way to dismiss what might actually be the cause of some of this mysterious stuff. There are so many natural cures to things, why is it so hard to believe there are probably natural reasons why things happen?

      1. Makes sense to me! My lungs are a bit dodgy at times. I think the weather must be a bit different than what I experience in Monsoon though, since the rain is so heavy it just knocks everything out of the air.

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