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Asthma triggers are those things that make the airways tighten and become inflamed which leads to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Sometimes a trigger brings on a reaction right away, but other times it may take several hours or days before symptoms begin. Here is information on several triggers.
Any infection a cold, virus, the flu, or sinus infections can trigger an asthma episode. The following tips will help you stay well and hopefully avoid asthma symptoms.
Many people notice that when the weather changes, asthma symptoms occur or increase. Cold air, increased heat, and humidity, as well as changes in seasons, can all trigger asthma.
Allergic reactions can cause asthma symptoms to begin or worsen. Allergens are present both indoors and outdoors and are identified by seeing an allergist for skin testing. Common outdoor allergens are tree, grass, and weed pollens, and mold spores. They spread in the breeze and are difficult to avoid. Indoor pollens include dust mites, pet dander, indoor mold, and pests (cockroaches, rodents). The following information will help you avoid/control these allergens.
Pollens/Mold Spores (Outdoor)
Dust mites (Indoor)
Dust mites are very tiny bugs you cannot see. They can be found in carpets, mattresses, pillows, cloth furniture, curtains and drapes, stuffed animals, and dust. Increased humidity in the home, as well as the presence of pets, can also increase dust mites.
Molds grow indoors where leaks have happened in roofs, pipes and walls, as well as in damp basements, crawl spaces or where there has been flooding.
Pet dander (Indoor)
Cockroach droppings and remains (along with other pests like mice) are a common asthma trigger if you are allergic to them. The following ideas will help control this allergen in your home.
Smoke from cigars, cigarettes and pipes is a powerful asthma trigger. The smoker inhales tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine and other harmful substances that irritate and inflame the airway as well as those that can cause cancer. These same substances are also present in second-hand smoke which is made up of both the smoke that comes from the burning end of the cigarette, cigar or pipe as well as what the smoker exhales. Smoking directly or second-hand smoke can lead to more frequent and worsening asthma symptoms.
Strong odors from perfumes, cleaning agents as well as wood smoke and air pollution are irritants that can trigger asthma.
Avoid wood smoke and the use of kerosene heaters, unvented fireplaces, gas stoves or gas heaters.
Laughing hard, crying, being upset or stressed can trigger asthma in some people. You cannot always avoid or control these but you can develop ways to deal with this better.
Your doctor/provider should be told about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter medicines (cold medicines, aspirin, etc.) and other prescription medicines such as blood pressure medications or eye drops. You should also tell your provider about any herbs, vitamins, or other supplements. Some of these may make asthma worse, and it is important that your provider knows about these.
Food allergy resulting in asthma symptoms is more common in infants and young children. If you think food allergy may be a cause of increasing asthma symptoms in you or your child, an allergist can be helpful in determining what you are allergic to. Sulfites in foods can be an asthma trigger for some people. They are a preservative that is sometimes added to food or medicines.
Of note: Food allergy results more commonly in anaphylaxis which includes wheezing and breathing difficulty as well as hives, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and rashes around the mouth or other parts of the body. Anaphylaxis is an emergency and treatment is needed right away.
Exercise is important to staying healthy both physically and mentally and may improve lung health. Exercise is anything from taking a walk to playing team sports. It is important that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity four to five days per week. Asthma should not stop you from doing anything you may want to enjoy. Many asthmatics have asthma symptoms during or after physical activities. For some people, the only time they experience symptoms is with activity; this is called exercise-induced asthma.
Sports that are generally well tolerated by people with asthma are those with short bursts of exertion such as volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, and wrestling. Swimming is a strong endurance sport that is generally well-tolerated as it is performed where the air is warm and moist. Biking, aerobics, walking, or running on a treadmill are also good activities. Activities with more constant periods of exertion (basketball, soccer, distance running) or those performed in cold weather (ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing) might not be tolerated as well. However, many asthmatics can fully participate in any activity they like.
Following are some tips to avoiding/managing symptoms with exercise.
Asthma should never stop you from doing the things you want to do. It is important to work with your doctor/provider and follow your care plan so you can enjoy the benefits of exercise without asthma symptoms.
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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala Healthcare, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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