[caption id="attachment_891" align="alignleft" width="90" caption="Dr. Bassett"][/caption]

As we are going through our summer rainy season in many areas of the country I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss a little know asthma phenomenon.After a rainstorm pollen grains can be washed away lowering pollen counts and giving some allergy sufferers temporary relief.However, a number of pollen grains, in particular grass pollen levels, may actually increase as much as 50 fold! It is thought that in some cases, these higher amounts of allergy causing particles, when inhaled, may bring on an asthma attack.This has been categorized as "thunderstorm associated asthma" and it is indeed a paradox.

A recent study published in the journal Thorax looked at millions of ER visits during a decade in Atlanta.The study found that following a thunderstorm there were many more individuals seeking ER care for worsening asthma.

Other theories have looked at air quality and pollution that may be affected by rain and thunderstorms.The relationship between thunderstorms and an increase in the number of emergency room visits for asthma has been identified in many studies throughout the world; however most doctors and patients may not be aware of this phenomenon.

So for the 20 million Americans with asthma according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the next time there is a thunderstorm, make it an opportunity to pay close attention to your symptoms and stay one step ahead for proper and timely asthma treatment.This underscores the importance of having an "asthma action plan" for optimal asthma prevention and management.

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.