It may sound like a tenuous, even bizarre, connection but asthma and thunderstorms may be more connected than you think. New research from the University of Georgia suggested that asthma outbreaks may be triggered by thunderstorms, MedicineNet.com reported. The study, led by Professor of Geography Andrew Grundstein, explored the phenomenon of “thunderstorm asthma,” pointing to a number of factors that could cause it. Observing a 2016 thunderstorm asthma outbreak in Australia, the researchers posited that the combination of rainfall, high humidity, electrical activity, and strong winds create conditions that trigger asthma attacks. The rain and humidity rupture pollen particles in the air, while electrical activity breaks them down further. The winds then disperse the pollen before the storm. Any one or a combination of these may be responsible for the asthma outbreak.
“Thunderstorm asthma is a very complex phenomenon and involves interactions of allergens like grass pollens, thunderstorms and susceptible groups of people,” Grundstein said in the report. “Our study may help anticipate significant thunderstorms by employing a technique that helps identify wind magnitudes commonly associated with thunderstorm asthma outbreaks.”
The researchers noted the limitations of their study, saying that while they have not yet learned how to predict thunderstorm asthma, their findings may be useful to public health officials in determining which storms may or may not cause an outbreak. They recommended that forecast modeling tools be cross-referenced to help people prepare for an outbreak.
If you are prone to asthma, it is best to be prepared. While the efficiency of asthma inhalers is up for debate, there are many natural remedies you can take to ease your asthma symptoms, from herbs to physical activities. An article on EverydayHealth.com named a few herbs and supplements that may help with asthma:
- Garlic – Its anti-inflammatory properties are believed to ease asthma symptoms, though no controlled study has yet been done on its efficiency.
- Ginger – A study found that oral ginger supplements improved asthma symptoms in patients.
- Turmeric – This spice has anti-allergy properties that can be good in controlling inflammation and keeping asthma in check.
- Honey – A favorite for those who suffer from bad allergies, honey has a soothing effect on the throat, which may bring relief to those with asthma.
- Omega-3s – These fatty acids known to boost heart health may also be able to boost lung function, though scientists have yet to gather more evidence to support this.
At the same time, soaking in a steam bath, doing yoga, and getting an air purifier have all been found to alleviate congestion and improve breathing in those who have asthma. Keeping these in mind in the event of a possible thunderstorm asthma outbreak could save yours or someone else’s life.
Fast facts on asthma
- According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), around 24 million Americans have asthma.
- Asthma causes two million visits to the ER annually.
- It is the third leading cause of hospital stays in children, and the top reason for missed days in school.
- About 10 Americans die from asthma daily, with 3,651 deaths recorded in 2014.
- Many asthma deaths can be avoided with proper treatment and care.
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