Could I experience thunderstorm asthma if I don’t have asthma or hay fever?

It’s possible you could have undiagnosed asthma. If you experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or persistent cough, then you may have asthma.

Asthma is very common and affects about one in nine people. Many people don’t realise that you can develop asthma at any age, even as an adult. It’s important to recognise asthma symptoms and see your doctor for review if you experience any of them.

A diagnosis of asthma is more likely if you have eczema or hay fever, or have close relatives with allergies and/or asthma, and if your symptoms:

  • keep coming back, or happen at the same time each year
  • are worse at night or in the early morning
  • are clearly triggered by exercise, allergies or infections, and
  • improve quickly with reliever medication.

Around one in four people with hay fever also have asthma, and it is important to recognise that pollen can trigger asthma as well as hay fever symptoms.

Some people experience wheezing, breathlessness, a feeling of tightness in the chest or coughing with their hay fever and don’t realise that these are actually symptoms of asthma. Hay fever only affects the eyes and upper airways (nose and throat) while asthma affects the lower airways (the lungs) causing the above symptoms.

If you do have asthma, the sooner you get it under control the sooner you’ll feel better and the faster you can help reduce your risk of thunderstorm asthma. 

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