Hay fever, air pollution and thunderstorms

Find out how air pollution and thunderstorms can affect pollen levels, causing hay fever and lung condition symptoms.

Air pollution

Carbon monoxide, ozone and other types of air pollution can increase your chance of getting hay fever symptoms. This happens more in cities and towns.

Air pollution also irritates your airways. If your airways are irritated, you can get hay fever and lung condition symptoms from smaller amounts of pollen in the air. 

Help us fight for clean air

Asthma + Lung UK is campaigning for everyone's right to breathe cleaner air. To join the fight for clean air, visit our clean air campaigns hub.


Thunderstorms can trigger asthma, especially if you also have hay fever. They can cause asthma attacks and make symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing and coughing worse. This is sometimes called thunderstorm asthma.

Thunderstorm asthma is rare and does not affect everybody with asthma. We have more information about thunderstorm asthma, including advice about what to do if thunderstorms trigger your asthma. 

Can thunderstorms affect other lung conditions?

There is some evidence that emergency hospital admissions for COPD rise after thunderstorms. More research needs to be done to explain the link between thunderstorms and COPD.

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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