Avoid Potential Triggers: How To Manage Asthma
People with asthma know that they have to be extra vigilant about avoiding triggers that can cause an asthma attack. Triggers can vary from person to person so it’s important to be able to identify your own personal triggers and allergens so that you can effectively manage your condition.
Asthma Causes and Symptoms
Asthma is a common, chronic lung-condition that affects how your airways carry air. Up to 5.4 million people in the UK have asthma, which is roughly about one out of every 12 adults and one out of every 10 children.
Even though it’s a lifelong condition, the symptoms of asthma can come and go with some people going long periods of time without any symptoms. Others may find their asthma gets worse over time, especially if they suffer frequent asthma attacks. No matter how severe your symptoms are, it’s important to continue with your treatment plan and to be vigilant about exposure to irritants.
During an asthma attack, the airways become especially inflamed and swollen. A minor asthma attack may get better with at-home treatments like using an asthma inhaler. More severe cases can become life threatening and require immediate medical attention, especially if treatments like inhalers aren’t helping.
You may be having an asthma attack if:
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
- Severe shortness of breath
- Low peak expiratory flow readings on a peak flow metre
Identifying and Avoiding Asthma Triggers
An asthma trigger is a substance that irritates your respiratory system and airways, causing asthma symptoms or attacks. Triggers inflames your airways, causes sticky mucus to build up with in them, and tightens muscles surrounding, all of which make it difficult to breathe. It can also cause coughing, chest tightness, and wheezing.
You may only have one trigger or have several. Triggers can evolve over time so it’s not uncommon for their severity to change as well. If you have consistently inflamed airways, you may become more sensitive to triggers and have more intense symptoms than you used to. They can also be worse depending on the time of year or your surrounding environment.
The reverse is also true. Previous triggers may suddenly seem to be less irritating than they used to be, but don’t become complacent. Why some substances are triggers and others aren’t isn’t fully understood which is why they are so hard to predict. It’s important to continue avoiding triggers even if you haven’t had an asthma attack in a while.
It’s often fairly easy to identify your triggers because of the physical reaction that immediately follows when you’re exposed to them. However, sometimes it may not be so clear cut especially if it’s something that isn’t visible or noticeable. To help you identify your triggers, it can be useful to keep a journal or diary so you can track your symptoms and where you were/what you were doing when they occurred. Over time this can give you a better understanding of your triggers and how to avoid them.
Common Asthma Triggers
This list isn’t exhaustive and everyone is different when it comes to what flares up their asthma. Some common asthma triggers include:
- Dust Mites: Dust mites are one of the most common triggers and can be found just about everywhere. They are microscopic bugs found within common household dust. You can reduce your exposure to dust mites by using allergen-proof bedding, frequently washing your bedding, hoovering floors and carpets regularly, and using HEPA air filters. You should also refrain from using down or feather pillows and duvets.
- Pollen: Pollen counts can change with the time of year so be aware which season is more likely to set off your symptoms. Check weather reports or online for current pollen counts and plan accordingly. When pollen levels are especially high, stay indoors as much as possible and avoid outdoor activities like gardening or mowing the lawn.
- Cigarette Smoke: Not only does the smoke and toxins in cigarettes cause serious health conditions, but it can exacerbate asthma symptoms. You don’t even need to be the smoker to be susceptible to these effects. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack. Be sure to visit smoke-free areas and ask your friends and loved ones to find a safe space away from you to get their nicotine fix.
- Pollution: Pollution from cars, industry, fires, and other human activities can aggravate asthma symptoms. You can find information online about the current air pollution levels where you live, helping you to make decisions about your daily activities. Face masks can help if you can’t avoid going outside on high pollution days.
- Mould: Indoor mould is found in damp areas like kitchens and bathrooms, especially if there is poor ventilation. To prevent mould from growing in your home you should immediately fix any plumbing issues and leaks, wash away visible mould with detergent and water, keep your fridge clean, and using a dehumidifier.
- Pets: Let your friends and family know about pet allergies so they can make accommodations if you are visiting. Before going somewhere new, find out if there are any pets around that might trigger your symptoms.
Even the most hypervigilant of us can’t always avoid triggers. This is why you should have an effective asthma treatment plan in place to help manage your symptoms and prevent serious attacks from occurring.
You’re probably extremely familiar with asthma inhalers if you have asthma. These little devices can be a lifesaver when you’re experiencing symptoms and they are easy to use and carry around with you.
One of the most commonly used inhalers by people with asthma are Ventolin inhalers. Also known as the ‘blue inhaler,’ Ventolin is a short-acting airway dilator that is used to treat sudden and acute symptoms of asthma.
Stay on top of your asthma and keep enough Ventolin inhalers to hand. After a quick consultation with one of our prescribers, we’ll have your medications shipped safely, securely, and promptly to your door. Click here to start your consultation with us!