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An Overview on Asthma and Allergy Triggers

Asthma and allergy triggers can be as varied as the people they affect. A “trigger” is something that causes a reaction somewhere in your body and for allergy sufferers and asthmatics that can often be in their lungs. Triggers are found both indoors and outdoors and there is no one trigger that will affect every allergy or asthma sufferer, but some triggers affect more people than others.

Common allergy and asthma triggers are:

1) Cold air-Many allergy sufferers and asthmatics have trouble with drastic temperature changes. Wearing a mask outdoors during extremely cold weather and avoiding large temperature changes when indoors can help control this trigger.

2) Smoke- Both tobacco and wood smoke can be problematic especially for someone with asthma. Family members and friends should smoke outside or quit smoking altogether to help alleviate exposure to tobacco smoke. If wood smoke is the trigger, wood stoves and fireplaces should be avoided.

3) The common cold virus, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses- Frequent washing of hands, yearly flu shots, exercising, and following a healthy lifestyle can help prevent contracting these illnesses. An asthmatic should be extremely aware of his or her symptoms and if they progress past the usual common cold complaints should seek medical attention.

4) Strong odors or fumes, such as perfumes, paint, hairspray, cleaning products, and candles- Avoidance is the best plan for these triggers, when that is not possible try to keep exposure to these triggers to a minimum.

5) Pets- Animal dander and saliva are common causes of allergies and if they are found to be a trigger, pets should be removed from the home. Even after removal of the pet, symptoms may linger since pet dander will remain in house dust. Bathing pets weekly may help with allergy symptoms. A pet that will usually cause minimal allergic reactions are fish.

6) Allergens including dust mites, pollen, molds, and pollution- All of these can create havoc in the home of an asthmatic and allergy sufferer. Cleaning is essential when trying to alleviate the above triggers. Using covers on mattresses and pillows, removing carpets and heavy dust trapping window treatments in bedrooms can help allergies in the bedroom. Routine vacuuming and dusting as well as weekly washing of bedding will help remove house dust.

Outdoor triggers can be hard to avoid, but if symptoms are severe enough it is best to stay indoors during peak times of air pollution, pollen, and mold spores. Many weather sites will give the current pollen and pollution count for people with allergies and asthma.

Changes made need to be in the home to help alleviate or lessen symptoms. Air-conditioning is a must for someone with outdoor allergies. Not only will the doors and windows be kept shut, keeping outdoor allergens such as mold spores and pollen from entering the home, but the use of HEPA filters in furnaces and air ducts will reduce the number of allergen particles in the air you breathe. Air-conditioning will also lower the humidity of a home which helps to control mold and dust mites.

Each asthma and allergy sufferer must identify what triggers their particular symptoms, before treatment can begin. The American Lung Association suggests asthmatics keep an asthma diary, to help them identify what they were exposed to prior to an asthma attack. This diary will also be useful when discussing symptoms and treatments with your medical doctor. One way to verify a trigger is to avoid exposure to see if symptoms are lessened and frequency decreased. This works best if one suspected trigger at a time is avoided.

By identifying and then working to alleviate as many common triggers as possible, asthmatics and allergy suffers can live normal lives with minimum disruption due to symptoms and asthma attacks.

For more information go to www.lungusa.org.