The Top 10 Most Common Asthma Triggers

If you suffer from asthma, it often feels like the world is full of triggers and there’s no escape.

Any asthmatic knows that avoiding, and limiting, exposure to triggers is vital in managing their condition. Keeping triggers at bay reduces respiratory symptoms, can prepare you for an asthma attack, or even reduce your reliance on medication.

Here is a list of the Top 10 most common triggers that you should be aware of if you, or someone close to you, is suffering from asthma.

  • Animals can be triggers, especially cats & dogs — All warm-blooded animals can have an effect, and animal urine can also make the condition worse.
  • Dust mites are the enemy — They are almost everywhere and thrive in mattresses carpets, upholstered furniture, bed covers, linens, clothes, and soft toys. Eradicating dust mites is virtually impossible, but you can take effective steps to minimize exposure.
  • Mold spores & pollen are also the enemy — They live in damp areas of the house (e.g basements, bathrooms), but unlike pollen grains, spores don’t have a season, they are always around, and exist in larger clusters. Plants release pollen in the spring and summer months, and this can be a significant trigger for asthmatics. Pollen is often associated with the outdoors, but the truth is that they can make their way indoors too!
  • Exercise is good, but you need to be careful — If you’re an asthma sufferer that loves to exercise, you’ve probably heard of exercise-induced asthma (EIA). This is a well-known asthma trigger and most asthmatics are affected by it. But just because you have asthma, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit on the side-lines! You can manage your EIA through appropriate use of medication and a suitable exercise regime.
  • Everyone know that smoking kills — Tobacco smoke is the No. 1 indoor air pollutant. Smoke advances asthma symptoms, especially in children, and a smoking parent is a major risk factor for infants developing asthma.
  • Pollution & weather change — Sudden changes in weather, e.g. usually cold temperatures and chilly winds or a sudden blast of cold air, can trigger asthma. There is 70 times more air pollution in closed spaces (e.g at home, work, school, cars or public transport) .
  • Your office is probably full of irritants & allergens — Workplace chemicals and dust can induce occupational asthma. Watch out for:

Industrial irritants: chemicals, fumes, gases, aerosols, paints, smoke or perfumes , food odors

Occupational allergens: plant material and food. E.g. ‘Baker’s asthma’ is caused by constant exposure to allergens in flour.

Physical stimuli: variations in temperature or humidity e.g. environments that are very humid or really cold.

  • Other medical conditions: rhinitis, sinusitis, Gastric reflux disease (GERD) & viral infections — Infections of the sinuses can aggravate asthma symptoms. Heartburn an indigestion can trigger symptoms in a large number of asthmatics especially for those whose asthma symptoms aren’t associated with allergic triggers. Common cold or flu can aggravate airway inflammation and trigger asthma symptoms especially in children
  • Household products — Fumes and scents from household cleaners, strongly scented soaps and creams can be triggers for any suffering asthmatic. Sometimes even perfumes, glues, and aerosols can have an effect too!
  • Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be a hazard — Approx. 10% of asthma patients are sensitive to aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. So to relieve common aches and pains use paracetamol-based products such as Panadol. Some people suffer form more serious aspirin-intolerance and exposure can result in severe life-threatening asthma attacks.
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