(ORDO NEWS) — In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School began to suspect that people were more likely to seek medical attention on stormy days. And no, the point is not at all that they are so afraid of thunder and lightning that their heart hurts. Patients, especially the elderly, begin to complain of headache, nasal congestion and cough – in general, the most common symptoms of acute respiratory viral infection (ARVI).
The relationship between stormy days and exacerbation of respiratory tract diseases has not yet been proven by science, but recently American scientists decided to look for at least remote evidence. After studying the statistics of thunderstorms over a 10-year period of time and comparing their frequency with the number of hospital visits, they found some very interesting patterns.
The impact of thunderstorms on health
The results of the scientific work were published in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine. As part of a scientific work, Eric Zou of the University of the American State of Oregon and his colleagues found out how many times there were thunderstorms in different regions of the United States between January 1999 and December 2012.
All this information was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Also at the disposal of scientists was the statistics of addresses of older people for the same period of time. This statistic was taken from the Medicare Over 65s Health Insurance Program database.
To the surprise of the researchers, the number of hospital visits did increase during stormy periods, albeit only slightly. Statistics showed that over a 14-year period, before and after thunderstorms, about 52 thousand people turned to medical institutions. Most of them complained of all sorts of breathing problems, from an ordinary cough to shortness of breath. Elderly people with serious respiratory problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease reacted especially strongly to thunderstorms.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that is life threatening. It is characterized by shortness of breath and associated breathing problems. Inhalation of tobacco smoke is believed to be the main cause of COPD.
Causes of morbidity during a thunderstorm
Thus, the relationship between stormy days and exacerbation of respiratory diseases can be remotely called proven. But the exact reason for the increase in the incidence for scientists is still a big mystery. One would assume that when it rains during a thunderstorm, pollen is absorbed into the air, which provokes breathing problems.
But, first of all, why then are the diseases of the respiratory system not exacerbated by ordinary rains without thunder and lightning? Secondly, exacerbations are observed before the onset of a thunderstorm, and after it the symptoms of diseases gradually disappear.
Because of all the above facts, scientists deny the fault of pollen in the incidence of human disease. They are more inclined to the version that the respiratory organs of people begin to suffer due to the increase in the amount of dust particles in the air. And their concentration just increases before thunderstorms, which has been repeatedly proven in the course of scientific observations.
Danger of lightning
Of course, one should not forget that thunderstorms pose an immediate danger to human health with their lightning. At the moment, it is known that the length of some lightning strikes can reach 709 kilometers, and they do not fade away up to 16 seconds.
The current strength in the discharge of each lightning is from tens of millions to billions of volts. In most cases, after a lightning strike, a person dies instantly. But in history there are many cases when people survived even after the strongest blows – after that, noticeable marks remained on their bodies, and which can be seen in this material.
And a man named Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times, and in each case he managed to survive. Thunderstorms caught him at different moments in his life: when he was little and helped his father, when he grew up and worked in his profession, and so on. And the lightning seemed to chase and hit him, if not directly, then at least reflected from other objects. Surprisingly, Roy Sullivan did not die of a lightning strike, but for a completely different reason.
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