Posted in Health, news, weather

Thunderstorm Asthma Risks Rise During Monsoon Season

While monsoon season brings shifts in temperatures, it also brings heavy winds and thunderstorms.

Yet for an asthmatic this can be exceptionally dangerous.

“Thunderstorm Asthma” is a term used when a very windy storm can induce an asthmatic attack.

Last year, nine people died in Melbourne, Australia after a thunderstorm precipitated respiratory difficulties.

The storm, its believed, caused pollen particles to swell and rupture into much smaller particles, which were dispersed by wind.  The theory is that the immediate propulsion of much smaller (and more numerous) particles into one’s lungs was the recipe for asthma disaster.

We first learned of “thunderstorm asthma” in the 1980’s when epidemics occurred in parts of Europe, Australia and Iran. Environmental conditions change and asthma allergens meet the unsuspecting lungs.

Asthma is a respiratory condition in which inflammation causes the airways to narrow, restricting air flow and causing wheezing, shortness of breath and cough.  This bronchoconstriction can be deadly if the patient doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Bronchodilators, such as albuterol are used to dilate the airways and steroids are commonly given to decrease the inflammation.

If someone has baseline asthma, a storm forecast should warrant preparatory measures, including ensuring one has plenty of inhalers, and seeing their provider to determine if they are vulnerable to “tipping over”.  Many feel a false sense of security with rain as they believe it will wash away the dust.  As Melbourne witnessed, a thunderstorm can be just as deadly.

 

A variety of factors can cause asthma attacks including:

Pollen

Smoke

Alcohol

Cold air

Dust mites

Mold

Pet dander

Exercise

Laughing

Stress

Acid reflux/heartburn

Aspirin

Air fresheners, perfume, scents

Traffic and pollution

and more.

 

As we see, asthma is not solely caused by a Spring time flower particle. A variety of issues can trigger an attack.  If its sudden, unexpected, stressful and carries a concentrated variety of particles, this combination can be deadly.  Hence “thunderstorm asthma” can be a lung’s perfect storm…….

 

                                                                                                       LearnHealthSpanish.com

                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

Posted in news, weather

Tropical Storm Julia, warnings issued for Florida, Georgia and S. Carolina

By Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP

Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service issued a warning that Tropical Storm Julia could dump 3 to 6 inches of rain along the northeast coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastlines.  The rain is expected through Friday. They warn that isolated rains of could dump up to 10 inches, prompting flash flooding. Florida Governor Rick Scott is urging residents to prepare and visit FLGetAPlan.com.

By 11 pm Tuesday night ET, Tropical Storm Julia was 5 miles West of Jacksonville Florida moving NNW at approximately 9 mph.  Per the National Hurricane Center, it had maximum sustained winds at 40 mph.  They report this “slow moving” storm is expected to produce heavy rainfall, but may weaken to a depression by Wednesday.

In the central Atlantic, Tropical Storm Ian is slowly gaining strength, reported to have 50 mph maximum sustained winds and moving NNW at 13 mph.  TS Ian is currently not a threat to land.  In the Pacific, Hurricane Orlene continues to weaken, its wind speeds currently at 85 mph as it moves north at 1 mph per the NWS.

Safety tips during hurricane season include the following:

  1.  Know what season you’re in. Hurricane season usually runs from June 1 – November 30th and peaks in early-mid September.
  2. Be prepared by:
    1. Knowing your evacuation routes,
    2. Preparing your home with shutters, boards and ensure your home is up to code to withstand hurricanes
    3. Ensuring you have necessities:  several days supply of water and non perishable food, medicines, first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, tools and important papers in waterproof packages
    4. Having radio access to monitor weather reports
  3. Stay indoors during the storm
  4. After the storm, venture out only once you’re sure the storm has passed. Be aware of and avoid downed power lines

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and board certified Family Physician