BRITAIN was battered by intense thunder and lightning last night – putting millions at risk of killer asthma attacks, experts have warned.
Outbreaks of heavy rain and humid weather are set to continue across the country today after the UK baked in a record-breaking 38C heatwave yesterday.
The Met Office had warned that lightning and flash floods could cause chaos, while pollen levels rocket for those in the west today.
Asthma sufferers are being advised to stay inside and keep their windows closed amid fears “thunder fever” could trigger attacks.
Experts say thunderstorms can spark asthma symptoms because they smash pollen into tiny bits that go deeper into your lungs.
The potentially lethal combination is reported to have killed nine people in the last two years.
When it’s very humid, the windy conditions during a thunderstorm blow lots of pollen and mould spores high into the air
A spokesperson from Asthma UK said: “Thunderstorms can trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma, especially children and young adults. It’s not fully understood why this happens.
“One reason could be that when it’s very humid, the windy conditions during a thunderstorm blow lots of pollen and mould spores high into the air.
“The moisture higher up in the air breaks them into much smaller pieces.
“As these smaller pieces of pollen and mould particles then settle back down, they can be breathed in, irritating the smaller airways of the lungs. This can trigger asthma symptoms.”
“Thunderstorms can have a devastating impact on people with asthma and trigger an asthma attack which could be fatal,” she said.
“Humid, stormy conditions break the pollen into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled more deeply into the lungs and can lead to life-threatening asthma attacks.”
Hay fever and asthma are closely linked, with around 80 per cent of people with asthma finding their symptoms are made worse when pollen counts are high.
Advice for asthma sufferers when a thunderstorm hits
- Stay indoors if you can, before, during and after the storm, and keep the windows closed.
- Change your clothes and have a shower when you’ve been outside to wash off any pollen.
- Avoid any of your other asthma triggers, such as exercise, alcohol or stress.
- Have your reliever inhaler close by and ready to use if you need it.
- If you have hay fever, take your usual hay fever treatments such as a nasal spray and/or antihistamines. If you’re not sure, speak to your pharmacist or GP about the best hay fever treatment for you.
- Don’t smoke or let other people smoke around you because it can make asthma symptoms worse.
- Make sure you know the signs that your asthma is getting worse and what you need to do if it is.
Source: Asthma UK
Sonia added: “Pollen is a top trigger for asthma attacks at this time of the year, affecting an estimated 3.3million people with asthma in the UK.
“People with asthma who also have a pollen allergy not only experience classic hay fever symptoms such as itchy eyes and a running nose, but are also at an increased risk of a life-threatening asthma attack.”
Experts advise those with asthma should avoid other triggers like exercise, alcohol or stress and keep a reliever inhaler to hand.
Also, don’t smoke or let other people smoke around you as that can worsen symptoms.
It’s important to take hay fever treatments such as a nasal spray and antihistamines if you know pollen can set you off too.
It came after the mercury hit a scorching 38.1C (100.58F) in Cambridge on Thursday.
This was only the second time temperatures over 100F have been recorded in the UK.
The current all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F), which was set in 2003, was narrowly missed.
Temperatures will drop slightly today – but it will still feel warm and humid at 26C in London and 31C in Norwich.
Showers are also expected to sweep across south Wales and southern England before spreading towards the northeast.
MORE ON ASTHMA
Outbreaks of heavy rain will continue across northern, eastern and some central parts overnight, where it will remain humid.
There will also be “heavy, thundery rain” on both Saturday and Sunday – with flooding and lightning expected to cause train and bus cancellations.
The Met Office has issued another yellow ‘severe’ weather warning for rain on Saturday and Sunday.
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