Many people with asthma have reported to their doctors that symptoms seem to worsen with changes in weather patterns, especially when storm fronts move into the area. There has not previously been much research into the phenomenon, but new research by Dr. Guy Marks, at the Institute of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, shows that thunderstorms, in particular, can be a threat to asthmatics.

The study was published in Thorax, a medical journal and explains how airflow and pressure pulls atmospheric particles into the air before they are released back to the ground with rain. Asthma sufferers, especially those with grass pollen allergies, begin to have problems as they breath in the concentrated pollens.

“These findings support our hypothesis that thunderstorms trigger epidemics of exacerbation of asthma during the pollen season by sweeping up allergenic particles up and concentrating them in a narrow band of air close to ground level,” said Dr. Marks.

A spokeswoman for the National Asthma Campaign suggests “People with asthma should be aware that thunderstorms could trigger their asthma symptoms. They should keep a close eye on their condition either by taking regular peak flow readings or recording their symptoms. It may be necessary to increase their dose of preventive treatment, in consultation with their doctor or nurse. If they are at all worried about their asthma they should contact their doctor for further advice.”

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT