Brits have been warned to watch out for signs of so-called “thunder fever” as the UK braces for thunderstorms this weekend.
The country has enjoyed warm temperatures over the past week, with the Met Office issuing its first ever Extreme Heat Warning.
But from today, rain and storms are forecast, with temperatures going down from over 30C to the high teens.
Experts have warned that a sudden switch in the weather during the pollen season could be a trigger for people suffering from asthma or hay fever.
The result is so-called “thunder fever” which allergy specialist Max Wiseberg says is an “upside-down hay fever”.
Thunderstorms are set to batter the UK this weekend
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He said: “Thunderstorms can actually make your hay fever far worse. This reaction to the weather is known as thunder fever.”
A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms is in place in southern and eastern England today and tomorrow.
Met Office forecaster David Oliver said: “This yellow rain warning comes as temperatures are set to dip for many areas over the weekend.
“A spell of rain, heavy in places perhaps with some thunder, moves in from the southwest late on Friday and into Saturday.
“Some very heavy showers or thunderstorms are on the cards, especially during Sunday.”
Thunder fever is common on a high pollen count day
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In 2016, a band of severe thunderstorms swept through Melbourne, Australia, triggering a rash of asthma attacks that resulted in eight fatalities and more than 8000 hospitalisations, according to Pulmonology Advisor.
Researchers at the University of Georgia later studied the outbreak and found that particles of pollen are broken up and distributed in the air by gusty winds, which can trigger asthma and hay fever.
The scientists said: “A distinct characteristic of the event was the very strong downdraft winds that led to a gust front and the spreading of pollen fragments across the region.”
If you suffer from asthma or hay fever, you should keep an eye out for the main symptoms of thunder fever
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The main symptoms of “thunder fever” are:
shortness of breath tightness in your chest wheezing when you breathe persistent coughing
Health Direct explains the symptoms can get worse very quickly – and if you have difficulty breathing, you should seek medical treatment immediately.
If you suffer from asthma or hay fever and a thunderstorm is approaching on a high pollen count day, you should:
make sure you have your reliever medication with you stay inside a building or a car, especially during the wind gusts before the rain close your doors and windows if an air conditioner is on, set it to recirculate air
Dr Andy Whittamore, GP and clinical lead at Asthma UK charity, said it was important that sufferers stick to a good routine of taking their prescribed inhaler every day.
An Asthma UK spokesperson said: “During pollen season, the windy conditions during a thunderstorm blow lots of pollen high into the air.
“The moisture higher up in the air breaks the pollen into much smaller pieces.
“As these smaller pieces of pollen particles then settle back down, they can be breathed in, irritating the smaller airways of the lungs.”