The Popular Natural Seasonal Allergy ‘Remedy’ You Should Avoid

It’s finally spring just about everywhere, which means it’s time for the classic guessing game, “Do I have allergies or a spring cold?”

Here’s one easy way to tell: When people have a first bout with seasonal allergies, they typically experience itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose with clear — rather than discolored — mucus, said Dr. Ellen Dutta, assistant medical director of allergy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“If there’s a lot of itching or sneezing, those are the clues that it’s allergies,” she said.

Allergy testing is the only way to know for sure if you’re allergic, and your specialist might recommend commercial medication such as an over-the-counter antihistamines, allergy shots, or under-the-tongue immunotherapy treatments. 

But what if you want to treat your allergies without medical intervention? (With your doctor’s blessing, that is.) While there’s no silver bullet natural remedy for allergies, there are some lifestyle changes you can undertake to help make the season bearable. Here are 4 ways to help reduce your allergy suffering — and one thoroughly debunked “remedy” to avoid:

1. Don’t rely on honey

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

Forget every woo-woo thing your co-worker told you about eating local honey to immunize your body against seasonal allergies. The method is completely unproven, according to Dutta. 

While the idea that honey could help allergies has logical roots — honey may have some anti-inflammatory benefits, and repeatedly exposing patients to small amounts of allergens is considered an allergy treatment — honey for allergy relief has never been consistently duplicated in clinical studies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Worse yet, honey can cause health problems in people with bee allergies, and infant botulism if given to children younger than a year old. 

Tree pollen, specifically birch and oak tree pollen, is the main culprit during early spring, closely followed by grass pollen in later spring and early summer. The middle of summer brings a brief hiatus, then grass pollen returns at the end of summer, rounded out by ragweed in the fall.

By contrast, pollens in honey come from from flowers, not trees, which means that allergenic tree, grass and weed pollen don’t tend to end up in the honey. And although the smell of flowers might irritate people who are sensitive to it, flower pollen doesn’t produce an immune response in the same way that tree pollen does. 

“There aren’t any real herbal remedies or holistic treatments that have been proven to help,” Dutta said. “The pollens that we’re allergic to are the types of pollens that travel by wind — tree, weed or grass pollens that blow in the air.”

2. Keep your windows closed and blast the AC

Uwe Umstatter via Getty Images

If you can’t stop sneezing, one of the most basic things you can do it to put a barrier between yourself and the enemy outdoors. During spring, summer or fall, Dutta and her colleagues at Mass General recommend patients avoid the pollen that’s in the air by keeping the house and car windows closed and running an air conditioner, she said.

Dr. Myngoc Nguyen, chief of allergy at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in northern California, echoed this advice: “Using an air conditioner in your car can cut the amount of pollen you breathe by as much as 30 percent,” she told Health.com.

3. Try a sinus rinse

Valery Rizzo via Getty Images

Another technique is to use a neti pot, a teapot-shaped vessel that’s available over the counter and basically flushes out your sinuses with a saltwater mixture.

“The nose is like a car filter or home air filter that traps debris. Rinsing the nose with saline solution is similar to using saline eye drops to rinse out pollen,” said Dr. Steven Osborne, a medical officer in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

“A lot of patients use the sinus rinse on a regular basis, once or twice a day, as part of their routine,” Dutta said.

Safety should be a top concern. If you decide to go the nasal irrigation route, it’s important to use distilled or sterilized bottled water for the rinse, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tap water is okay to use if it’s been boiled for a few minutes, then cooled to a lukewarm temperature. If neti pots aren’t used and cleaned properly, tap water bacteria can cause potentially serious infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

As always, you should talk to your doctor before starting any sort of health regimen.

4. Change your clothes

antonio arcos aka fotonstudio photography via Getty Images

If you’ve been outside during allergy season, it’s a good idea to take off your shoes and change your clothes when you move indoors, which limits your exposure to pollen and stops the spread of pollen in your home. 

Pollen can ride inside on pet fur, too, so it’s a good idea to keep dogs and cats as clean as possible. “These are all small things that can add up,” Dutta said.

5. Wash your hair

Thanasis Zovoilis via Getty Images

It’s not just your clothes you should wash when you come in from the great outdoors. Dutta recommends taking a quick shower to wash off any pollen that may have adhered to your person. Those trying to cut down on their weekly washings should know that this technique includes actually washing your hair — no shower caps allowed. 

“The pollen collects on your hair,”Dutta explained. “When you go to bed the pollen can collect on the pillow, and you have more exposure that way.” 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/20/natural-allergy-remedies-honey_n_9776482.html

‘Thunderstorm asthma’ plagues Australian city, but what is it?

Thunderstorm asthma left many gasping for air in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.
Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Asthma is no fun at the best of times. On this occasion though, a rare storm triggered breathing problems for hordes of people in an Australian city.

The unusual phenomenon called “thunderstorm asthma” resulted in two deaths, over 30 people rushed to intensive care and 1900 emergency calls between 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday night.

“We essentially had a day’s workload within five hours. This includes 200 cases for asthma, and we were seeing asthma in people who had not experienced breathing issues before,” Ambulance Victoria’s Executive Director of Emergency Operations, Mick Stephenson, said in a emailed statement.

The Age reported 20-year-old Hope Carnevali died while waiting for an ambulance, which arrived 31 minutes after the call. The second death was 18-year-old Omar Moujalled, who had finished his last high school exam only a few days before.

What the hell is thunderstorm asthma?

Thunderstorm asthma can affect regular sufferers of the disease, or non-sufferers who get hay fever. Symptoms include wheezing, difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest and coughing.

Robin Ould, CEO Asthma Foundation of Victoria, told Mashable there were extremely high levels of grass pollen in the air on Monday.

“There were over 100 pollen grains per cubic metre in the 24 hours building up to that event,” Ould said.

“When you have that much pollen, and it’s followed up by a storm, the pollen grains get wet. They break up, and the small particles which are allergens become dispersed quite widely by the wind.”

The job of the small hairs in the nose is to stop pollen from getting into one’s respiratory system. But as the pollen is broken down into smaller bits by wet weather, they easily can get past the hairs.

“Because those pollen grains are so small, they can get into the lungs rather than being just trapped in the nose,” he said.

“Once the allergens are in the lungs they can trigger an asthma attack for those people whose trigger is pollen, or people who have hay fever but don’t necessarily have asthma.

“Because pollen gets into the lungs, they do become susceptible to having asthma symptoms, or an asthma attack.”

‘It’s really a rare event’

The last time a thunderstorm asthma event happened in Melbourne was on Nov 25. in 2010, and before that it was in 1995 in the Wagga Wagga area of the state of New South Wales.

Incidents have also been recorded in London and Birmingham in the UK, as well as Naples in Italy.

Ould stresses that it’s hard to know when such an event will happen, and that asthma sufferers who are 1 in 10 Australians should know how to manage their symptoms.

“It’s really a rare event and difficult to predict … our message is that you should have a management plan and a good relationship with your doctor. If you’re a prevention program, you should stick to it and adhere to it,” he said.

Make sure you carry that Ventolin around if you need it, folks.

BONUS: Surreal footage of Hurricane Nicole captured by NASA shows danger looming

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/22/thunderstorm-asthma-melbourne-australia/

Thunderstorm In Australia Sparks Thousands Of Asthma Attacks and Kills Four People

A heavy thunderstorm sparked an unlikely series of events in Australia earlier this week, resulting in widespread reports of asthma attacks, overflowing hospitals, and the death of at least four people.

The thunderstorm took place on Monday November 21 over Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. The heavy rainfall is believed to have soaked rye grass pollen, causing them to burst, spreading tiny specks of pollen across the city. The small pieces of pollen then made their way into the respiratory tracts of the local people and provoked asthma attacks, along with other breathing difficulties.

“When rye grass pollen becomes wet through humidity or water, it breaks up into a lot of small pieces and those small pieces can get past the nasal passage into the lungs. Normally rye grass would be trapped in the nasal passage,” Robin Ould, from the Asthma Foundation of Victoria in Australia told AFP.

“When it gets into the lungs, the allergens that are there cause an asthma attack… the small bronchial tubes become inflamed, they fill with mucus and the muscles around them become tight and people can’t exchange their air,” he explained.

As crazy as it seems, thunderstorm asthma is a phenomenon documented in a handful of scientific studies. Although it is rare, Melbourne has had at least three other instances of them in the past few decades due to the high amounts of rye grass found in the farmlands surrounding the city. The phenomenon has also been seen before in the UK, in bothLondon and Birminghamin 1994 and 1983, respectively.

The emergency services received 1,900 emergency phone calls within five hours on Monday evening, with some 8,500 patients heading to hospitals over the following two days. Four people died and, as of today, three patients remain in a critical condition, with nine more in intensive care. The majority of those affected had a history of asthma or hayfever.

This was a health emergency of an unprecedented scale It was like having 150 bombs going off right across a particular part of metropolitan Melbourne,” Victorian state Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/thunderstorm-in-australia-sparks-thousands-of-asthma-attacks-and-kills-four-people/

Thunderstorm asthma: 8 dead in Australia from freak illness

(CNN)A freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has now killed at least eight people in Australia.

Thousands were hospitalized in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria last Monday with breathing problems due to a rare combination of weather and pollen.
    Eight days later, seven people are still receiving hospital treatment, including one who is in a critical condition, according to the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services.
    Thunderstorm asthma occurs when a storm hits during a period of unusually high pollen and high humidity, causing the grains to break up and disperse, entering people’s lungs and making it hard for them to breathe.

    In a survey by the University of Melbourne, 74% of respondents said they experienced an asthma attack during the storm last week.

    Health emergency

    Though grass pollen is the most common known cause of thunderstorm asthma, attacks can also be triggered by excessive levels of tree pollen and fungal spores in the atmosphere.
    “This will vary by geography,” said Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh, adding that pollen from olive trees, for example, was reported in a previous thunderstorm asthma event in Italy in 2010.
    Levels of fungal spores in the atmosphere typically peak during harvest, which can also be drawn up and broken down during large thunderstorms due to the rise in atmospheric pressure, according to Sheikh.
    An official review is currently underway into how Victoria’s state emergency services and health system responded to the thunderstorm asthma emergency.
    An extra 60 ambulances had to be deployed as more than 1,900 calls flooded emergency lines in four hours, or one call every four to five seconds.

    Thousands

    What can be done?

    While thunderstorm asthma has occurred all over the world in different conditions, there are persistent factors, according to Reena Ghildyal, an expert in biomedical sciences at the University of Canberra.
    “There are many common threads in all reports of thunderstorm-related asthma — a high concentration of potentially allergenic material such as that in late spring in Melbourne (pollen grains or fungi), a thunderstorm that sweeps up the allergens, which burst when wet and release very small particles (such as starch granules or fungal spores),” she wrote last week.
    People with pre-existing asthma are particularly at risk of complications from thunderstorm asthma, and should therefore take necessary precautions.
    “Keep updated on local pollen counts and weather forecasts, especially in spring; keep your asthma medication up to date; enjoy the spectacle of the thunderstorm from inside your house; and call (emergency services) if your asthma worsens or you feel any breathing difficulty,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/health/thunderstorm-asthma-australia/index.html

    We Now Know What Causes Deadly “Thunderstorm Asthma” Outbreaks

    Every now and then, during a significant thunderstorm, those suffering from asthma can experience severe attacks and the consequences can sometimes be fatal. Known appropriately as thunderstorm asthma, one of the most extreme examples of this on record took place last October in Melbourne, Australia, where 8,500 people were admitted to hospital and six of them died.

    Although theories have cropped up as to why the two phenomena are linked for more than three decades now, a new study by a team led by Australias University of Georgia (UGA) has conclusively defined the triggering mechanisms.

    Writing in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, they have found that the high winds, the electrical discharge, the high humidity, and tiny grass pollen particles all play starring roles as antagonists.

    Based primarily on the Australian event, they explain that it all starts with bioaerosols, particles released from various ecosystems that are mixtures of organic and inorganic components. Pollen, mold spores, and dust are frequently found within these floating blobs.

    The high humidity and rainfall that comes with particularly bad thunderstorms break open these levitating conglomerates, which scatters the pollen and dust into the air in millions of little explosions.

    The high electrical discharge that accompanies thunderstorms exacerbates this fragmentation and, combined with strong downdraft winds, ensures that it is blown into the faces of anyone miles down the road from the storm itself.

    While this study does not yet provide the capability of predicting thunderstorm asthma outbreaks, our methodology may provide a key piece to the puzzle for alerting public health officials about what storms may trigger an episode and which ones may not, co-author Marshall Shepherd, a professor of geography and atmospheric sciences at UGA, said in a statement.

    Either way, its now clear that the combination of the above characteristics represents the perfect storm of conditions that will trigger severe asthmatic symptoms in enormous groups of people. Some have described them as asthma epidemics.

    Incredibly, the Melbourne event was so potent that it essentially gave asthma to those that never had it. Of the thousands afflicted that day, up to 40 percent had never experienced asthmatic symptoms prior to that date. This is thought to be because rye grass pollen was involved, which is so small that can easily infiltrate and inflame our airways.

    Certain pollen makes things worse than others. Juergen Faelchle/Shutterstock

    Some researchers suspect that anthropogenic climate change is actually making things worse. Experiments show that increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide appear to increase the amount of pollen certain plants give off.

    Ultimately, this means that thunderstorm asthma is perhaps more prevalent today than it ever has been through human history and its set to get worse as time ticks on.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/we-now-know-what-causes-deadly-thunderstorm-asthma-outbreaks/

    The Popular Natural Seasonal Allergy ‘Remedy’ You Should Avoid

    It’s finally spring just about everywhere, which means it’s time for the classic guessing game, “Do I have allergies or a spring cold?”

    Here’s one easy way to tell: When people have a first bout with seasonal allergies, they typically experience itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose with clear — rather than discolored — mucus, said Dr. Ellen Dutta, assistant medical director of allergy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    “If there’s a lot of itching or sneezing, those are the clues that it’s allergies,” she said.

    Allergy testing is the only way to know for sure if you’re allergic, and your specialist might recommend commercial medication such as an over-the-counter antihistamines, allergy shots, or under-the-tongue immunotherapy treatments. 

    But what if you want to treat your allergies without medical intervention? (With your doctor’s blessing, that is.) While there’s no silver bullet natural remedy for allergies, there are some lifestyle changes you can undertake to help make the season bearable. Here are 4 ways to help reduce your allergy suffering — and one thoroughly debunked “remedy” to avoid:

    1. Don’t rely on honey

    Martin Barraud via Getty Images

    Forget every woo-woo thing your co-worker told you about eating local honey to immunize your body against seasonal allergies. The method is completely unproven, according to Dutta. 

    While the idea that honey could help allergies has logical roots — honey may have some anti-inflammatory benefits, and repeatedly exposing patients to small amounts of allergens is considered an allergy treatment — honey for allergy relief has never been consistently duplicated in clinical studies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Worse yet, honey can cause health problems in people with bee allergies, and infant botulism if given to children younger than a year old. 

    Tree pollen, specifically birch and oak tree pollen, is the main culprit during early spring, closely followed by grass pollen in later spring and early summer. The middle of summer brings a brief hiatus, then grass pollen returns at the end of summer, rounded out by ragweed in the fall.

    By contrast, pollens in honey come from from flowers, not trees, which means that allergenic tree, grass and weed pollen don’t tend to end up in the honey. And although the smell of flowers might irritate people who are sensitive to it, flower pollen doesn’t produce an immune response in the same way that tree pollen does. 

    “There aren’t any real herbal remedies or holistic treatments that have been proven to help,” Dutta said. “The pollens that we’re allergic to are the types of pollens that travel by wind — tree, weed or grass pollens that blow in the air.”

    2. Keep your windows closed and blast the AC

    Uwe Umstatter via Getty Images

    If you can’t stop sneezing, one of the most basic things you can do it to put a barrier between yourself and the enemy outdoors. During spring, summer or fall, Dutta and her colleagues at Mass General recommend patients avoid the pollen that’s in the air by keeping the house and car windows closed and running an air conditioner, she said.

    Dr. Myngoc Nguyen, chief of allergy at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in northern California, echoed this advice: “Using an air conditioner in your car can cut the amount of pollen you breathe by as much as 30 percent,” she told Health.com.

    3. Try a sinus rinse

    Valery Rizzo via Getty Images

    Another technique is to use a neti pot, a teapot-shaped vessel that’s available over the counter and basically flushes out your sinuses with a saltwater mixture.

    “The nose is like a car filter or home air filter that traps debris. Rinsing the nose with saline solution is similar to using saline eye drops to rinse out pollen,” said Dr. Steven Osborne, a medical officer in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

    “A lot of patients use the sinus rinse on a regular basis, once or twice a day, as part of their routine,” Dutta said.

    Safety should be a top concern. If you decide to go the nasal irrigation route, it’s important to use distilled or sterilized bottled water for the rinse, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tap water is okay to use if it’s been boiled for a few minutes, then cooled to a lukewarm temperature. If neti pots aren’t used and cleaned properly, tap water bacteria can cause potentially serious infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

    As always, you should talk to your doctor before starting any sort of health regimen.

    4. Change your clothes

    antonio arcos aka fotonstudio photography via Getty Images

    If you’ve been outside during allergy season, it’s a good idea to take off your shoes and change your clothes when you move indoors, which limits your exposure to pollen and stops the spread of pollen in your home. 

    Pollen can ride inside on pet fur, too, so it’s a good idea to keep dogs and cats as clean as possible. “These are all small things that can add up,” Dutta said.

    5. Wash your hair

    Thanasis Zovoilis via Getty Images

    It’s not just your clothes you should wash when you come in from the great outdoors. Dutta recommends taking a quick shower to wash off any pollen that may have adhered to your person. Those trying to cut down on their weekly washings should know that this technique includes actually washing your hair — no shower caps allowed. 

    “The pollen collects on your hair,”Dutta explained. “When you go to bed the pollen can collect on the pillow, and you have more exposure that way.” 

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/20/natural-allergy-remedies-honey_n_9776482.html

    ‘Thunderstorm asthma’ plagues Australian city, but what is it?

    Thunderstorm asthma left many gasping for air in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.
    Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Asthma is no fun at the best of times. On this occasion though, a rare storm triggered breathing problems for hordes of people in an Australian city.

    The unusual phenomenon called “thunderstorm asthma” resulted in two deaths, over 30 people rushed to intensive care and 1900 emergency calls between 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday night.

    “We essentially had a day’s workload within five hours. This includes 200 cases for asthma, and we were seeing asthma in people who had not experienced breathing issues before,” Ambulance Victoria’s Executive Director of Emergency Operations, Mick Stephenson, said in a emailed statement.

    The Age reported 20-year-old Hope Carnevali died while waiting for an ambulance, which arrived 31 minutes after the call. The second death was 18-year-old Omar Moujalled, who had finished his last high school exam only a few days before.

    What the hell is thunderstorm asthma?

    Thunderstorm asthma can affect regular sufferers of the disease, or non-sufferers who get hay fever. Symptoms include wheezing, difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest and coughing.

    Robin Ould, CEO Asthma Foundation of Victoria, told Mashable there were extremely high levels of grass pollen in the air on Monday.

    “There were over 100 pollen grains per cubic metre in the 24 hours building up to that event,” Ould said.

    “When you have that much pollen, and it’s followed up by a storm, the pollen grains get wet. They break up, and the small particles which are allergens become dispersed quite widely by the wind.”

    The job of the small hairs in the nose is to stop pollen from getting into one’s respiratory system. But as the pollen is broken down into smaller bits by wet weather, they easily can get past the hairs.

    “Because those pollen grains are so small, they can get into the lungs rather than being just trapped in the nose,” he said.

    “Once the allergens are in the lungs they can trigger an asthma attack for those people whose trigger is pollen, or people who have hay fever but don’t necessarily have asthma.

    “Because pollen gets into the lungs, they do become susceptible to having asthma symptoms, or an asthma attack.”

    ‘It’s really a rare event’

    The last time a thunderstorm asthma event happened in Melbourne was on Nov 25. in 2010, and before that it was in 1995 in the Wagga Wagga area of the state of New South Wales.

    Incidents have also been recorded in London and Birmingham in the UK, as well as Naples in Italy.

    Ould stresses that it’s hard to know when such an event will happen, and that asthma sufferers who are 1 in 10 Australians should know how to manage their symptoms.

    “It’s really a rare event and difficult to predict … our message is that you should have a management plan and a good relationship with your doctor. If you’re a prevention program, you should stick to it and adhere to it,” he said.

    Make sure you carry that Ventolin around if you need it, folks.

    BONUS: Surreal footage of Hurricane Nicole captured by NASA shows danger looming

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/22/thunderstorm-asthma-melbourne-australia/

    ‘Thunderstorm asthma:’ Deadly illness caused by freak weather

    (CNN)An unusual combination of weather conditions leading to a freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has left four people dead in Australia.

    Thousands of people were rushed to hospital Monday with breathing problems in the southern Australian state of Victoria as emergency services struggled to cope.
      Three were still in a critical condition Thursday, a Victorian Department of Health spokesman told CNN.
      During a four hour period Monday, Ambulance Victoria received more than 1,900 calls, or one call every four to five seconds. An extra 60 ambulances were deployed, as well as police and firefighters.

      Freak incident

      Thunderstorm asthma occurs when a storm hits during a period of unusually high rye grass pollen, said Robin Ould, chief executive of the Asthma Foundation of Australia.
      “When you have a perfect storm coming together (of) a very high pollen day, high humidity, and a thunderstorm, the grains of rye grass absorb water with the humidity and they break up into thousands of pieces,” Ould said.
      “Normally with rye grass the pollen would be trapped by nose hairs. When it breaks up it goes straight to the lungs.”
      The pollen irritates the lungs’ bronchial tubes, causing them to become inflamed and filled with mucus and making it hard for people to breathe.
      Pollen levels peak in late spring. When this combines with strong winds, rain and high temperatures, as it did in Victoria this week, it can lead to incidents of thunderstorm asthma.
      Though grass pollen is the most common known cause of thunderstorm asthma, attacks can also be triggered by excessive levels of tree pollen and fungal spores in the atmosphere. “This will vary by geography,” said Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh, adding that pollen from olive trees, for example, was reported in a previous thunderstorm asthma event in Italy in 2010.
      Levels of fungal spores in the atmosphere typically peak during harvest, which can also be drawn up and broken down during large thunderstorms due to the rise in atmospheric pressure, according to Sheikh.
      Edward Newbigin, a professor of biosciences at the University of Melbourne, said that many of those affected in Australia this week may never have had an asthma attack before.
      “I imagine it was absolutely terrifying,” he said.

      Of more than 2,500 people surveyed by the university, 74% said they experienced asthma during the storm. Of those, 32% had never experienced an asthma attack before.

      ‘Absolute shock’

      One of the dead, 18-year-old Omar Moujalled, had just finished his final year of studies at Melbourne’s Australian International Academy.

      Apollo

      Rare illness

      Thunderstorm asthma last struck Victoria in May 2010, having previously “had several reports,” according to Sheikh.
      But the condition is not limited to Australia. Experts say incidents of thunderstorm asthma have been seen in the UK, US, Italy and Canada, but the condition is “very under reported,” said Newbigin.
      Sheikh pointed out, however, that “English-speaking countries are also countries with the highest prevalence of asthma.”
      People with hay fever are particularly at risk, Newbigin said. He advised them to “better manage your hay fever during the pollen season,” by using antihistamines, eye drops and other medications.
      Though normally hay fever occurs in the nasal area, the freak weather conditions which cause thunderstorm asthma can drive the allergens deep into the lungs, causing a far more severe asthmatic attack.
      “Anybody with severe or brittle asthma (a less common form involving severe but irregular attacks) is most likely to experience severe symptoms and need rapid treatment,” said Sheikh, adding that smog days, pollution and smoking as other environmental triggers for an attack. “They are much less likely to trigger it if there is good underlying asthma control.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/23/health/thunderstorm-asthma-australia/index.html

      Thunderstorm In Australia Sparks Thousands Of Asthma Attacks and Kills Four People

      A heavy thunderstorm sparked an unlikely series of events in Australia earlier this week, resulting in widespread reports of asthma attacks, overflowing hospitals, and the death of at least four people.

      The thunderstorm took place on Monday November 21 over Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. The heavy rainfall is believed to have soaked rye grass pollen, causing them to burst, spreading tiny specks of pollen across the city. The small pieces of pollen then made their way into the respiratory tracts of the local people and provoked asthma attacks, along with other breathing difficulties.

      “When rye grass pollen becomes wet through humidity or water, it breaks up into a lot of small pieces and those small pieces can get past the nasal passage into the lungs. Normally rye grass would be trapped in the nasal passage,” Robin Ould, from the Asthma Foundation of Victoria in Australia told AFP.

      “When it gets into the lungs, the allergens that are there cause an asthma attack… the small bronchial tubes become inflamed, they fill with mucus and the muscles around them become tight and people can’t exchange their air,” he explained.

      As crazy as it seems, thunderstorm asthma is a phenomenon documented in a handful of scientific studies. Although it is rare, Melbourne has had at least three other instances of them in the past few decades due to the high amounts of rye grass found in the farmlands surrounding the city. The phenomenon has also been seen before in the UK, in bothLondon and Birminghamin 1994 and 1983, respectively.

      The emergency services received 1,900 emergency phone calls within five hours on Monday evening, with some 8,500 patients heading to hospitals over the following two days. Four people died and, as of today, three patients remain in a critical condition, with nine more in intensive care. The majority of those affected had a history of asthma or hayfever.

      This was a health emergency of an unprecedented scale It was like having 150 bombs going off right across a particular part of metropolitan Melbourne,” Victorian state Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/thunderstorm-in-australia-sparks-thousands-of-asthma-attacks-and-kills-four-people/

      Thunderstorm asthma: 8 dead in Australia from freak illness

      (CNN)A freak illness known as thunderstorm asthma has now killed at least eight people in Australia.

      Thousands were hospitalized in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria last Monday with breathing problems due to a rare combination of weather and pollen.
        Eight days later, seven people are still receiving hospital treatment, including one who is in a critical condition, according to the Victoria Department of Health and Human Services.
        Thunderstorm asthma occurs when a storm hits during a period of unusually high pollen and high humidity, causing the grains to break up and disperse, entering people’s lungs and making it hard for them to breathe.

        In a survey by the University of Melbourne, 74% of respondents said they experienced an asthma attack during the storm last week.

        Health emergency

        Though grass pollen is the most common known cause of thunderstorm asthma, attacks can also be triggered by excessive levels of tree pollen and fungal spores in the atmosphere.
        “This will vary by geography,” said Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh, adding that pollen from olive trees, for example, was reported in a previous thunderstorm asthma event in Italy in 2010.
        Levels of fungal spores in the atmosphere typically peak during harvest, which can also be drawn up and broken down during large thunderstorms due to the rise in atmospheric pressure, according to Sheikh.
        An official review is currently underway into how Victoria’s state emergency services and health system responded to the thunderstorm asthma emergency.
        An extra 60 ambulances had to be deployed as more than 1,900 calls flooded emergency lines in four hours, or one call every four to five seconds.

        Thousands

        What can be done?

        While thunderstorm asthma has occurred all over the world in different conditions, there are persistent factors, according to Reena Ghildyal, an expert in biomedical sciences at the University of Canberra.
        “There are many common threads in all reports of thunderstorm-related asthma — a high concentration of potentially allergenic material such as that in late spring in Melbourne (pollen grains or fungi), a thunderstorm that sweeps up the allergens, which burst when wet and release very small particles (such as starch granules or fungal spores),” she wrote last week.
        People with pre-existing asthma are particularly at risk of complications from thunderstorm asthma, and should therefore take necessary precautions.
        “Keep updated on local pollen counts and weather forecasts, especially in spring; keep your asthma medication up to date; enjoy the spectacle of the thunderstorm from inside your house; and call (emergency services) if your asthma worsens or you feel any breathing difficulty,” she said.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/health/thunderstorm-asthma-australia/index.html