A stormy summer could bring along a huge rise in fatal 'thunderstorm asthma' cases.
A leading healthcare expert has warned that a stormy summer can spark a huge rise in the number of life-threatening asthma cases, as the recent record rainfall triggered a rise in the number of ‘thunderstorm asthma’ cases. According to the medics, the heavy rain stirs fungal spores, especially one identified as ‘alternaria’ which can cause a life-threatening asthma attack. Dr Prasanna Sankaran, a specialist registrar in respiratory medicine at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, said "The new cases are often after heavy rain and thunderstorms which can trigger an attack. The fungal spores are released by the heavy rain and come up from the soil anywhere that is damp. It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, but this is a very under-recognised cause of asthma. The advice to sufferers is to stay indoors during thunder storms and keep doors and windows closed. It is possible to treat the effects and in some cases offer desensitisation treatment but the best advice is to minimise exposure." Dr Sankaran, has also called for more research to be carried out into thunderstorm asthma attacks. The alert comes just days after gardeners warned of poisonous caterpillars which cause vomiting and dizziness if their hairs are inhaled. If these caterpillars were to spread to trees around the Olympics, it could potentially bring misery to millions of spectators. Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. During the bad weather, stormy winds and moisture can cause the pollen to rupture into tiny particles, which are small enough to be inhaled. The outflow winds of a thunderstorm then concentrate these tiny particles at ground level, where they can easily enter the small airways of the lungs and cause an acute asthma attack in those who are allergic to pollens. The symptoms of ‘thunderstorm asthma’ can occur quickly and include shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. An estimated five million people in the UK – of which one million are children suffer from asthma. That is 1 in every 12 adults and 1 in every 11 children. Medical Specialists Pharmacy provides online consultations for asthma sufferers and so can help them to keep their asthma under control with inhalers and tablets.