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Australia in 'Thunderstorm Asthma' Outbreak

In a rare event caused by very high levels of rye grass pollen coupled with rain and high winds, hundreds of people with asthma in Australia were stricken with life-threatening asthma attacks, and two died, BBC.com reports. One in 10 Australians have asthma and 80 percent have allergies, BBC.com said.

It’s spring in Australia right now, but you can always work on reducing your asthma and allergy symptoms. It’s estimated that 25 million Americans have spring allergies, and airborne pollen is the most common cause. Also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, this allergy affects between 10 and 30 percent of people worldwide.

Most people turn to antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and allergy shots to address their symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these drugs can cause significant side effects, and relief tends to be short-lived. Moreover, they don't address the underlying cause of your allergies. The good news is there are natural preventive steps to take for minimizing your symptoms.

Begin by avoiding asthma triggers, such as clothing with synthetic fibers and being outdoors during the height of pollen counts (midday). Wear gloves and a mask when gardening and use a good quality indoor HEPA filter air purifier in your home.

Also pay attention to your diet and vitamin D levels — research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a primary underlying cause of asthma. Ideally, you'll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. Beware that using sunscreen when outdoors effectively shields your skin from making any vitamin D. Another alternative is an oral vitamin D3 supplement.
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