As a chronic asthmatic, there are some common yet difficult to identify triggers that you should know about to minimize the chances and severity of asthma attacks. For some, it could be tobacco smoke, while for others it could be something as common as outside air pollution.
However, COPD can sometimes be mistaken for asthma as there are many similarities between the two but both need different treatments. Therefore, knowing the difference between asthma and COPD is important. For example, asthma typically causes attacks of wheezing and tightness in the chest, whereas COPD symptoms are more constant and may include cough with phlegm.
Some of the most common asthma triggers are:
Allergic reaction is one of the most common asthma causes. Indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, and mice can trigger asthma flare-ups. Whereas, common outdoor allergens include molds and seasonal pollens.
If you find yourself struggling with asthma attacks often, it is worth getting an allergy test done. Avoiding exposure to these allergens and treating them with medication can help you control your asthma.
2. Tobacco Smoke
Smoking causes asthma. Tobacco smoke is unhealthy for everyone but worse for people with asthma. Smoke irritates the airways, making them narrow, swollen, and filled with sticky mucus which is hard to control even with medication.
So, quit smoking immediately, and also be wary of ‘second-hand smoke’ to avoid damaging your lungs and worsening other symptoms.
Many people start coughing and wheezing while exercising. Unfortunately, exercising, the healthiest thing you could ever do, can also cause chest tightness and shortness of breath in asthmatic patients.
It is recommended to take your asthma medicine 20-30 minutes before exercising to prevent exercise-related attacks.
Cold air, temperature changes, and humidity can often cause asthma flare-ups. Exercising outdoors during winter can expose you to very cold, dry winds and trigger an attack.
Hot, humid air can cause asthma symptoms as well. Common allergens like dust mites and mold thrive in humidity which can aggravate allergic asthma.
Can stress cause asthma? The answer is yes.
According to Asthma UK, 43% of people with asthma report that stress can trigger their symptoms.
When you feel strong emotions like anger, fear, or excitement; your breathing pattern changes. It may cause your muscles to tighten up, increasing your breathing rate, and ultimately leading to an asthma attack.
So, remember to take slow, deep breaths when feeling stressed or angry. Practice meditation and distract yourself by observing other things around you whenever you feel stressed and anxious.
6. Outdoor Air Pollution
Irritants in the air can also cause asthma flare-ups. Smog, ozone, strong fumes or vapours coming from vehicles and factories, airborne particles, and wildfire smoke are examples of such irritants.
You can avoid these triggers by paying attention to air quality forecasts on the radio, TV, internet, or at the airport and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.
Having a dog or a cat at home means pet dander in every corner of the house! Hamsters and rabbits can also cause pet allergy induced asthma.
If you cannot live without your furry friend, install a HEPA filter at home and ensure that the house is thoroughly cleaned from time to time.
Medicines treat diseases, but in this case, some medicines can also cause asthma attacks. Consult your doctor and verify if taking beta-blockers, Aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is worsening your health condition. If yes, ask your doctor for alternative medicine to avoid asthma triggers.
9. Other Health Conditions
Infections linked to cold, influenza, sinusitis, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are also known to trigger asthma attacks. Some other health conditions that can worsen the matters for asthmatic patients are:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
- Food-induced Anaphylaxis
Medicines alone might not work in keeping your asthma in check. Identify which of these triggers your asthma and try to avoid it as much as you can.