Top Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them

June 3, 2021

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that causes wheezing, difficulty in catching your breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

“Asthma is not a condition that comes and goes,” says Dr. David Gude, Chief Operations Officer for Texas MedClinic. “If you have been diagnosed with asthma, you have it all the time, even if asthma attacks are intermittent.”

What is An Asthma Attack?

During an asthma attack, you may experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightening, and breathlessness. This occurs when the airways in your body begin to swell and constrict, making it more difficult to move air into and out of your lungs.

Asthma attacks may happen when you are exposed to a “trigger.” Everyone has different triggers—what causes an asthma attack in you may not bother someone else with asthma. Knowing what triggers your asthma attacks and avoiding them can help reduce the number of asthma attacks you experience.

Common Asthma Triggers & How to Avoid Them

  • Tobacco Smoke – Exposure to tobacco smoke, either by smoking yourself or by inhaling second-hand smoke, can trigger an asthma attack. If you smoke and have asthma you should quit. Avoid second-hand smoke and ask friends and family to avoid smoking around you.
  • Air Pollution – Outdoor air pollution comes from many sources and can trigger asthma attacks. Some sources include cars, factories, and smoke from fires. Pay attention to air quality reports and try to limit your time outdoors when the air quality is poor.
  • Pests – Roaches and mice are nocturnal, scurrying through homes at night looking for food and water, and leaving a trail, usually in the form of fecal material, behind. Keep pests to minimum by:
    • Removing any food or water sources overnight
    • Cleaning dishes, spills, or crumbs immediately
    • Storing food in airtight containers
    • Vacuuming every 2 – 3 days
    • Sealing any cracks or openings in cabinets and walls
  • Pets – Some people are allergic to animals. Though many assume it is the hair of the pet that causes an asthma attack, it is proteins found in pet saliva, urine, or dander that act as the trigger. Depending on the severity of your attacks, you may consider finding another home for the pet. If that is not an option, decrease your exposure by:
    • Keeping pets off beds and out of bedrooms
    • Bathing your pet regularly
    • Using an air filtration system with a HEPA filter
    • Using allergen-proof mattress covers and pillowcases

It is important to take any asthma medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. The CDC also recommends working with your doctor to create an Asthma Action Plan to help you prevent and control your asthma attacks. You can download a printable copy of an Asthma Action Plan template by clicking here.

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