Thunderstorm asthma: an overview of the evidence base and implications for public health advice

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Abstract

Thunderstorm asthma is a term used to describe an observed increase in acute bronchospasm cases following the occurrence of thunderstorms in the local vicinity. The roles of accompanying meteorological features and aeroallergens, such as pollen grains and fungal spores, have been studied in an effort to explain why thunderstorm asthma does not accompany all thunderstorms. Despite published evidence being limited and highly variable in quality due to thunderstorm asthma being a rare event, this article reviews this evidence in relation to the role of aeroallergens, meteorological features and the impact of thunderstorm asthma on health services. This review has found that several thunderstorm asthma events have had significant impacts on individuals’ health and health services with a range of different aeroallergens identified. This review also makes recommendations for future public health advice relating to thunderstorm asthma on the basis of this identified evidence.

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