Asthma is a common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm.
If you frequently experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezy sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma. This results in asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. If it is severe, asthma can result in decreased activity and inability to talk. Asthma symptoms affect an estimated 26 million Americans — 19 million adults and 7 million children — and are one of the leading causes of absences from work and school.
Triggers for asthma
A trigger is something that sets off or starts asthma symptoms. Everyone’s asthma is different, and everyone has different triggers. For most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when their asthma is not well-controlled with medicine.
How Do Triggers Make Asthma Worse?
In people with asthma, the airways are always inflamed and very sensitive, so they react to a variety of external factors, or “triggers.” Coming into contact with these triggers is what causes the symptoms of asthma the airways tighten and become more inflamed, mucus blocks the airways and results in a worsening of asthma symptoms. An asthma attack can begin immediately after exposure to a trigger or several days or even weeks later.
Different Triggers for asthma
- Dust mites Dust mites are tiny bugs that are in almost every home. Dust mites can trigger an asthma attack. To prevent attacks, use mattress covers and pillowcase covers to make a barrier between dust mites and yourself. Wash your bedding weekly.
- Cockroaches Cockroaches and their droppings can trigger an asthma attack. Use roach traps or gels to cut down on the number of cockroaches in your home.
- Exercise-Induced Asthma Exercise and other activities that make you breathe harder can affect your asthma. Exercise, especially in cold air, is a frequent asthma trigger.
- Environmental Triggers Dry wind, cold air or sudden changes in weather can sometimes bring on an asthma episode. Strong fumes, vapors, or odors, dusts and particles in the air can also trigger asthma symptoms
- Mold Breathing in mold can trigger an asthma attack. Get rid of mold in your home to help control your attacks.
- Air Pollution Outdoor air pollution can trigger an asthma attack. This pollution can come from factories, cars, and other sources.
- Tobacco Smoke Tobacco smoke is unhealthy for everyone, especially people with asthma. If you have asthma and you smoke, quit smoking. “Secondhand smoke” is smoke created by a smoker and breathed in by a second person. Secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma, people should never smoke near you, in your home, in your car, or wherever you may spend a lot of time.
- Alcoholic Drinks Survey results suggest that 75 per cent of people with asthma say alcohol triggers their symptoms. Red wine is the main culprit, followed by white wine, beer and then cider.
- Food additives Food preservatives can trigger isolated asthma. Sulfite additives are commonly used in food processing or preparation and may trigger asthma in those people who are sensitive. The most common foods associated with allergic symptoms are eggs, cow’s milk, peanuts, soy, wheat, fish, etc.
- Genetic Factors Survey results suggest that heredity affects to an ample extent whether or not an individual will develop asthma, the severity of the person’s asthma condition, and the impact of respiratory infection and physical activity as triggers of asthma attacks.
Can I avoid triggers?
It is not always possible to avoid your triggers however reducing exposure to your asthma or allergy triggers may make your symptoms easier to manage. Trying to avoid triggers isn’t likely to make much difference to your asthma, but can often place limits on your lifestyle. The first step is to know what your triggers are so you focus your efforts in the right area. Your doctor will be able to help you work this out and give you some helpful advice and tips on how to avoid your triggers.