Thunderstorm asthma has been in the news a lot lately, after a recent case in Melbourne, Australia sent around 8,500 people to the emergency room and killed 8.

What exactly is thunderstorm asthma?

During a thunderstorm, winds pick up grass, tree, and weed pollens that under normal circumstances would be too big to breath in. The moisture from the storm then breaks the pollens into tiny, breathable pieces while the winds spread them through the air where they can be breathed in.

If you or a loved one has asthma, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from thunderstorm asthma.

  1. 1. Have an Asthma Action Plan in place

    2. Make sure to keep up with your nebulizer treatments and take your preventative medications as prescribed.

    3. If you have pollen allergies, this can also trigger an asthma attack so be sure to keep your allergies under control by taking antihistamines or nasal sprays.

    4. Stay inside during the storm.

    5. If you were outside right before the storm, shower and wash your clothes to remove any pollen.

    6. Carry your rescue inhaler and use it as soon as you notice symptoms. As Janet Davies Ph.D. and head of the Allergy Research group at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane says, “Do not wait to see if symptoms go away on their own. Inhalers deliver medication quickly and directly to inflamed and congested airways.”