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9 Most Common Asthma Triggers

Asthma is a lung disease characterized by episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, airway narrowing and obstruction, and shortness of breath. This disease is a major contributing factor to miss your work and school. Severe asthma attacks may require frequent hospitalizations and, they can be fatal.

Asthma is caused by inflammation of airways in the lungs. This, in turn, causes swelling in response to irritants or other triggers. Many noted studies have shown that reducing allergens in the home can actually lessen asthma symptoms [1] , [2] .

An asthma attack can occur when you are exposed to asthma triggers. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), listed here are the most common asthma triggers.

1. Dust Mites

Dust mites are found in almost every home and they are the most common trigger for an asthma attack [3] . To prevent an asthma attack, use pillowcase covers and mattress covers, remove stuffed animals from your bedroom and wash your bed sheets and pillowcases weekly.

2. Pets

If pets trigger asthma attacks, you should keep away from furry pets [4] . This usually occurs when you are allergic to proteins found in the animal's flakes of skin, urine, feathers or saliva. If you are sensitive to these proteins, touching or inhaling them causes your immune system to release a chemical called histamine, leading to an allergic reaction.

3. Mould

If your room smells of mould and breathing in it can trigger an asthma attack. The symptoms include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath [5] . Humidity increases the growth of mould. Get rid of mould by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels low.

4. Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke, especially second-hand smoke, also causes an asthma attack. Second-hand smoke is the smoke produced by a smoker and breathed by a second person. If you are suffering from asthma, avoid smoking areas [6] .

5. Cockroaches

Cockroaches and their droppings also can trigger an asthma attack [7] . These insects are found mostly in the kitchen. Vacuum or sweep every 2 to 3 days in the areas where there are cockroaches.

6. Smoke From Burning Grass Or Wood

Breathing in the smoke from burning grass or wood can cause an asthma attack. Because the smoke consists of harmful gases and small particles that may irritate your lungs. Avoid the areas where there is too much smoke [8] .

7. Outdoor Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is another cause of asthma attacks which come from cars, factories, etc. If the air quality is poor in your area, wear a mask before stepping out and if possible always stay indoors. A study has shown that outdoor air pollution triggers an asthma attack [9] .

8. Sinus Infections

Sinus infections cause inflammation in the mucous membranes that line the sinuses. This makes the membranes produce more mucus. If you have sinus infections and other respiratory infections, your airways get inflamed too.

9. Exercise

Exercising is another asthma trigger which causes symptoms like chest tightness, cough, and breathing trouble within the first 5 to 15 minutes of an aerobic workout. For most people, the symptoms go away in 30 to 60 minutes [10] .

Other asthma triggers include influenza, colds, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), allergies, breathing in chemicals, medicines, bad weather, food additives, and fragrances.

View Article References
  1. [1] Baxi, S. N., & Phipatanakul, W. (2010). The role of allergen exposure and avoidance in asthma.Adolescent medicine: state of the art reviews,21(1), 57–ix.
  2. [2] Sheehan, W. J., & Phipatanakul, W. (2016). Indoor allergen exposure and asthma outcomes.Current opinion in pediatrics,28(6), 772–777.
  3. [3] Milián, E., & Díaz, A. M. (2004). Allergy to house dust mites and asthma.Puerto Rico health sciences journal,23(1).
  4. [4] Simoneti, C. S., Ferraz, E., Menezes, M. B., Icuma, T. R., & Vianna, E. O. (2018). Cat ownership is associated with increased asthma prevalence and dog ownership with decreased spirometry values.Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas,51(12), e7558.
  5. [5] Mendell, M. J., Mirer, A. G., Cheung, K., Tong, M., & Douwes, J. (2011). Respiratory and allergic health effects of dampness, mold, and dampness-related agents: a review of the epidemiologic evidence.Environmental health perspectives,119(6), 748–756.
  6. [6] Chatkin, J. M., & Dullius, C. R. (2016). The management of asthmatic smokers.Asthma research and practice,2, 10.
  7. [7] Do, D. C., Zhao, Y., & Gao, P. (2016). Cockroach allergen exposure and risk of asthma.Allergy,71(4), 463–474.
  8. [8] Weinhold B. (2011). Fields and forests in flames: vegetation smoke & human health.Environmental health perspectives,119(9), a386–a393.
  9. [9] Guarnieri, M., & Balmes, J. R. (2014). Outdoor air pollution and asthma.Lancet (London, England),383(9928), 1581–1592.
  10. [10] Del Giacco, S. R., Firinu, D., Bjermer, L., & Carlsen, K. H. (2015). Exercise and asthma: an overview.European clinical respiratory journal,2, 27984.
Read more about: asthma
Story first published: Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 19:00 [IST]
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