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Despite low pollen counts, allergies worsen in the rain

There's a general rule of thumb that says on warm and windy days, pollen is high. Low pollen is expected when it's rainy outside -- but that's not always the case.

It seems reasonable to think that rain would bring relief from allergy symptoms, after all, rain usually washes away anything that has collected in or on an area. However, thunderstorms can actually cause some allergy symptoms to worsen. 

The phenomenon known as "thunderclap asthma" occurs when rain causes pollen particles to burst prior to washing them away, this emits a higher concentration of pollen into the air. The reason this occurs in thunderstorms has a lot to do with how a storm functions. The updraft of a thunderstorm can carry pollen particles into the storm itself, and breaks them down. As the rain and accompanying downdraft work through the area, the broken down pollen are re-released back into the area, and can cause worse symptoms as well as a severe asthma attack to those who have asthma.

So if you find yourself suffering from allergy symptoms this weekend, it's important to remember to limit your exposure outside, keep your windows closed and take a shower before heading to bed so you don't sleep with the allergens.

In general, though, wet and humid conditions are fairly favorable for people with allergies, as the humidity weighs the pollen down and keeps it from spreading. The opposite is true for dry and windy days, as the pollen is able to freely float through the air.

With the rain gone in Mid-Missouri and temperatures expected to heat back up to summer standards, we'll see the pollen count on the rise. As we begin the stretch into the heart of allergy season, it's always important to make sure you protect yourself from any allergens.

Stay with ABC 17 Stormtrack as we continue to monitor the extended summer temperatures and follow us on Twitter @ABC17Stormtrack.


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