Asthma sufferers have been warned to stay inside this weekend amid fears of potentially deadly "thunder fever".
The phenomenon occurs through a dangerous combination of very high pollen counts and violent thunderstorms.
A relentless heatwave is likely to spawn electrical storms capable of absorbing pollen and spreading the tiny particles that are breathed in.
The situation could prove fatal to people with respiratory conditions, but people who don’t have asthma can also suffer breathing problems, the Daily Post reports.
For the event to occur, the perfect blend of conditions must be met: high pollen count in the air, humidity and a northerly wind.
During a thunderstorm, pollen grains in the air absorb moisture before exploding into tiny particles.
Winds then scatter the fine particles where they can easily be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing inflammation and irritation.
And for asthma sufferers, this can trigger an attack.
A 1996 study explored the link between thunderstorms and asthma
It found there was an "acute outbreak" of asthma and a surge in A&E visits at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London after a thunderstorm hit the capital on June 24-25 in 1994.
The study said 40 asthma patients went to A&E in the hours after the storm which produced 50 lightning groundstrikes, a spike in humidity, a sudden temperature drop of 8C, and a rise in the grass pollen count from 37 to 130 grains/l.
Asthma UK estimates that 3.3 million Britons had their asthma triggered by pollen.
It says: "Thunderstorms can trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma, especially children and young adults. It’s not fully understood why this happens.
"One reason could be that when it’s very humid, the windy conditions during a thunderstorm blow lots of pollen and mould spores high into the air.
"The moisture higher up in the air breaks them into much smaller pieces.
"As these smaller pieces of pollen and mould particles then settle back down, they can be breathed in, irritating the smaller airways of the lungs.
"This can trigger asthma symptoms."
The most troubling part of "thunder fever", according to Popular Science, is that the tiny pollen particles can get stuck in people’s lungs, meaning people without asthma can experience breathing issues.
According to The Weather Channel, parts of Britain are at the risk of thundery downpours this weekend as a series of volatile Atlantic weather systems look set to invade western areas.
Waves of showers and heavy rain are forecast to spread eastwards from the Atlantic, with temperatures falling into the mid teens and dipping below average in parts.
Pollen levels are forecast to be very high or high across much of the country, the Met Office says.
Asthma sufferers are advised to keep their medication to hand over the weekend in the event of symptoms being triggered.
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High pollen counts also affects people suffering from hay fever.
Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen that usually gets worse between late March and September, when conditions are warm and humid.
It’s estimated that 40 per cent of the population suffer from hay fever, and even with closed windows, pollen can find its way indoors and prevent people from going about their day-to-day life.
The pollen count is expected to be moderate to high over the next few days, making it a difficult weekend for sufferers.
Thunderstorm advice for asthma sufferers
Asthma UK advises sufferers to stay indoors, if possible, before during and after a storm, and keep their windows closed.
If they’ve been outside they should change their clothes and have a shower to wash off any pollen.
Asthma triggers such as exercise, alcohol or stress should be avoided, as well as smoking or being near people who are smoing.
An inhaler should be kept close by and ready to use at all times.
Those with hay fever should take their usual treatments such as a nasal spray and/or antihistamines.
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