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Stormy Weather? Asthmatics Beware

Thunderstorms trap pollen that trigger attacks

When bad weather is brewing, people with asthma might want to retreat to the shelter of an air-conditioned room or get out inhalers designed to block asthma attacks. Thunderstorms can concentrate small particles in the air, such as pollen, and release them through rain to trigger attacks.

Scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia found that thunderstorms particularly aggravated asthmatics whose attacks are triggered by grass pollen. Pollen counts shot up between four- and 12-fold following a thunderstorm.

The BBC News describes the research and advises asthmatics to watch their breathing closely following storms. People whose asthma worsens afterward should talk with their doctor about increasing preventive medications or take other measures to head off attacks.

The Why Files from the University of Wisconsin puts asthma into perspective and describes treatments and factors that trigger attacks. A brief test from Dr. Stephen Ruoss at Stanford University in California will check your "asthma I.Q.".

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