Asthma is a chronic illness which affects the lungs and causes difficulty breathing. A chronic illness has no cure and those who are diagnosed with asthma will have the condition for life. However, asthma symptoms are not always present. The condition can be managed with medication and by avoiding the stimuli that trigger an asthmatic response.
There are known common asthma triggers but this does not mean that all of these triggers affect everyone with asthma. People living with asthma will find that there are certain things that tend to trigger their asthma attacks. These are known as personal asthma triggers. While they may not affect everyone, understanding common asthma triggers will help an asthmatic person identify his own personal triggers.
Common Asthma Triggers
1. Secondhand Cigarette Smoke
People living with asthma should never smoke cigarettes. Secondhand smoke, cigarette smoke that is coming from someone else smoking, frequently triggers asthma attacks as well. While it can be difficult to stop smoking, it can be even harder to avoid secondhand smoke. Several states have now banned smoking in bars and restaurants, but there are still many public places that allow smoking. It is a good idea to check on the smoking policy before going someplace new or choosing outdoor seating at a restaurant.
2. Outdoor Air Pollution
Air quality levels can vary depending on location and weather. Industrial air pollution and car exhaust fumes are common asthma triggers. Many weather forecasts report daily on air quality and may even offer guidelines for how the current conditions may affect asthmatics. Check the air quality forecasts before planning outdoor activities.
3. Dust Mites
Dust mites are found in nearly every home. These microscopic bugs live in dust and are asthma triggers for many people. It may be impossible to completely rid a home of dust, but there are techniques for keeping dust mites at bay. Invest in special allergen covers to encase mattresses and pillows, dust and vacuum regularly, and wash bedding in hot water.
4. Cockroach Allergies
Like dust mites, cockroaches are home invaders that can cause asthma attacks. Cockroaches come into a home to find food. Take away their food supply by cleaning up crumbs and spills promptly. Use roach traps or poisons to get rid of these pests and vacuum areas where cockroaches have been spotted at least twice a week.
Mold can exist in your home in areas where you may not easily spot it and it is another common asthma trigger. Leaks can cause mold to grow under carpets or in walls, so they should be fixed promptly. Mold thrives in high humidity. Keep the humidity levels between 30% to 50% in your home.
6. Pollen Allergies
For an asthmatic, pollen allergies can often trigger a asthma attacks. To minimize pollen exposure, learn when pollen is heaviest, such as tree pollen in the spring or ragweed pollen in the late summer. Pollen levels are often given along with local weather forecasts. During times when pollen counts are high, keep windows closed, limit outdoor activities, and shower to wash away pollen before sleeping at night.
7. Pet Fur
Pet fur is another common asthma trigger, even for those who are not allergic to their pets. The easiest way to avoid this trigger is to find the pet a new home, however that is not always possible. For those who choose to keep a pet despite its effect, regular vacuuming is a must. Pets should also be bathed once a week and should not be allowed into an asthmatic’s bedroom.
Strenuous exercise can be an asthma trigger, however this should not prevent an asthmatic from exercising. Regular exercise is good for everyone. For those with asthma, care should be taken not to overdo exercise. In some cases, using an inhaler prior to exercise may be beneficial, but this should be first discussed with a doctor.
9. Food and Food Additives
For some asthmatics food or food additives may be asthma triggers. This is not the same thing as a food allergy, but once identified avoiding the food is best. If food is a suspected trigger, keeping a food diary will help pinpoint the offending food. Check ingredient labels for foods eaten prior to an asthma attack and look for ingredients that show up each time.
10. Weather Changes
Changes in the weather can bring on asthma attacks for some people. Thunderstorms, high humidity levels, and freezing temperatures have been shown to be asthma triggers. While this is a less common cause of asthma, it is worth tracking for those who have asthma attacks without a known cause.
Though asthma is a chronic condition, it can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes. Identifying and avoiding personal asthma triggers is the best way to minimize the use of medication. Asthma does affect a person’s daily life, but avoiding asthma triggers can make the condition more manageable.