7 Common Asthma Attack Triggers and How To Manage/Avoid Them

The below content is derived from research done using sources available on the internet. Safey Medical Devices Inc and its subsidiaries do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the content. No medical decision should be taken on the basis of below content without consulting with your Medical Practitioner.

Concerned about asthma triggers? Find out which 7 common asthma triggers to avoid and how to manage them. Learn about asthma management with Safey Health. 

As a chronic respiratory condition, asthma can cause the airways in the lungs become inflamed, making it difficult to move air in and out. An asthma attack occurs when symptoms escalate, and these symptoms are usually caused by a series of triggers which can differ from individual to individual. When the trigger reaches the point where symptoms worsen, an attack happens. 

So what are the most common asthma attack triggers?  Let’s look in turn at seven, followed by advice on either how to prevent them from occurring in the first place or at least manage them when they do occur.

1. Pet hair or dander

(material shed from the body of humans and various animals that have fur, hair, or feathers) 

Pets and animals can trigger an asthma episode in people who are allergic to them. Dander is one trigger, and all animals have it (some more than others). Additionally, proteins found in an animal’s saliva, faeces, urine, hair, and skin can trigger asthma

What to do?

This doesn’t mean you can’t live with a beloved family pet. It simply means taking preventative measures such as keeping the animal out of your bedroom and off your furniture. If your pet lives indoor mostly, you should bathe him/her often.

We should also mention insects, in particular, Cockroaches. These aren’t just a sign of a dirty dwelling; they are dangerous too as a potential asthma trigger. 

What to do?

If you discover cockroaches, take steps to eliminate them. Cover up, store, and remove open water and food containers. Vacuum, sweep, and mop any areas where you see cockroaches. Then call an exterminator and make sure you are out when they come to do their work!

2. Dust, pollen and other particulate elements

Outdoor air pollution can trigger an asthma attack. This pollution can come from factories, cars, and other sources. 

What to do?

Pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio, television, and the Internet and check your newspaper to plan your activities for when air pollution levels will be low. Dust mites are tiny bugs that are in almost every home. If you have asthma, 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. Avoid using down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters. Remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom. Wash your 

bedding weekly.

3. Residues from dampness (such as mould and mildew)

Mould and mildew are two big asthma triggers. If you have a mould allergy your  symptoms may be triggered by exposure to mould spores. In some people, exposure to certain moulds can cause a severe asthma attack. You can prevent flare-ups from these triggers by being aware of damp places in your kitchen, bath, cellar or basement. The higher the level of humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) the greater the risk of mould and mildew growth.

What to do?

Buy a dehumidifier, as it will help you keep the humidity level low. It is wiser to discard any shower curtains, rugs, leaves, or firewood with mould or mildew.

You could also buy a tool called a hygrometer to check humidity levels and keep them as low as you can (no higher than 50%). Levels of humidity change over the course of a day, so check the humidity levels more than once a day. Fix water leaks, which let mould grow behind walls and under floors.

4. Airborne pollutants

Outdoor air pollution such as tobacco smoke or smoke from burning wood or grass can trigger an asthma attack. This pollution can come from factories, cars, and other sources. 

What to do?

Pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio, television, and the Internet and check your newspaper to plan your activities for when air pollution levels will be low.

Pollen particles are also problematic during spring and autumn. 

What to do?

Wherever possible, avoid being outside during peak pollen times of day. In fact, when air quality is low, try to avoid outdoor activities as a whole.

Use air conditioning if you have it. Air conditioning reduces indoor air pollutants, such as pollen, and it lowers the humidity in the room or house. This reduces your risk of exposure to dust mites and your risk of having a flare-up.

5. Sinus infections Perfumes and heavily scented items

Infections, viruses, and diseases can affect your lungs and trigger your asthma. Examples include colds, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and the flu. Sinus infections and acid reflux can also cause an asthma flare-up, as can some medicines. Additionally, food allergies may cause an asthma attack, especially if you have a history of having an anaphylactic reaction to a food allergen.

What to do?

To counter the risk, be vigilant about food you order from public places like restaurants and bars. Avoid smokey atmospheres (easier nowadays), take care when purchasing household cleaners, aerosols and so on – don’t use scented ones.

6. Exercise and exertion

Some people find that asthma symptoms are worse during exercise, or when they are feeling stressed. Strong emotions can lead to very fast breathing (hyperventilation), which can also cause an asthma attack. 

What to do?

Make sure you incorporate both warm-up and cool-down periods into your exercise routine. If the weather is cold, you can exercise indoors or wear a scarf to cover your nose and mouth. If you have allergic asthma, avoid exercising outdoors when pollen counts or air pollution counts are high.

{Intense emotions and worry can also worsen asthma symptoms so take steps to relieve stress in your life. Make time for things you enjoy doing – and for relaxation}.

7. Digestive reactions or allergies to certain food types.

Our body mistakes harmless food as something that could make you sick. When you eat something you’re allergic to, your immune system responds to protect you. 

What to do?

When you have a food allergy, you need to get familiar with these general terms and what specific things they can include. If you have questions about any product, check with the manufacturer. You’ll need to read menus at restaurants carefully, too. Ask about how food is prepared before you order if you have any concerns.

There are certain generic strategies you can put in place to at least alleviate the effects of an asthma attack;

  • Sit upright. Stop whatever you are doing and sit upright. Bending over or lying down can constrict your breathing even more.
  • Take long, deep breaths. This helps to slow down your breathing and prevent hyperventilation. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
  • Stay calm. Staying calm may prevent further tightening of your chest muscles and make your breathing easier.
  • Get away from the trigger. As we have seen, the asthma attack could be triggered by many external factors Get away from the trigger as soon as possible and go to an air-conditioned environment or any place with clean air.
  • Seek emergency medical help. If the wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulty does not subside after a period of rest, get immediate medical attention.

Of course, the above is generalised advice, so be aware that these are only guidelines. We are all separate cases and, accordingly, should follow the plan specific to our needs outlined by our own doctors.