Thunderstorms and asthma

Find out why thunderstorms can trigger your asthma and what you can do about it.

Can thunderstorms trigger asthma?

Thunderstorms can trigger your asthma, causing asthma attacks and making symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing and coughing worse. Sometimes, this is called thunderstorm asthma. 

Thunderstorm asthma is rare and does not affect everybody with asthma. So far, data suggests that you will have a higher risk of getting thunderstorm asthma if: 

  • you have asthma and hay fever
  • you are not managing your asthma well 
  • you have asthma but have not received a diagnosis yet.

There is also evidence that younger adults (under 30) are more affected by thunderstorm asthma.

Scientists do not fully understand why thunderstorm asthma happens, but it has been linked to wind. During a thunderstorm, the wind blows pollen grains and fungal spores into the air. The air during thunderstorms is extra moist. This moisture can break pollen grains and fungal spores down into smaller pieces. These small pieces can get into your lungs and affect your breathing. 

How can I protect myself?

If your asthma is affected by thunderstorms, try to:

  • keep managing your asthma well
  • stay indoors before, during and after thunderstorms. It’s a good idea to keep your windows closed too  
  • if you have to go outside, wear a mask to protect yourself against pollen grains 
  • if you have hay fever, take hay fever medicines to help protect yourself against pollen 
  • always keep your reliever inhaler with you, so that you can use it to quickly treat asthma symptoms in an emergency. 

Sudden changes in weather

The weather in the UK can be unpredictable. Sudden changes in weather can trigger your asthma. So can extreme weather events, like heat waves, floods and dust storms.    

In a recent Asthma + Lung UK survey, 7 in 10 people told us that changes in weather triggered their asthma.  

If your asthma is affected by changes in weather, it’s important to be prepared for any type of weather. You can do this by managing your asthma well. You could also set up email alerts for weather changes in your local area, so you always know what to expect.

Get support

Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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