What do I need to know about asthma triggers?
Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Asthma causes inflammation or swelling of the airways - the tubes that carry air to the lungs. This swelling can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Being around certain things can set off, or “trigger”, asthma symptoms. An asthma trigger is something that causes the airways to swell and become narrow, making it hard to breathe.
An asthma trigger can be an allergen or an irritant. An allergen is something that causes an allergic reaction in the body. Some examples of allergens include:
- furry pets, like cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.
- dust mites
- pollens, like from grasses, flowers, weeds, etc.
- air pollution
- certain medicines.
Irritants are things that you're not allergic to, but that bother your airways and cause narrowing or tightening. Some common irritants include:
- cigarette smoke
- cold air
- hot, humid air
- strong smells, such as perfume
- chemical fumes, like those from cleaning products
- the cold virus or a chest infection
- laughing or crying hard
Not everyone with asthma reacts to the same triggers. The key is to figure out what triggers your asthma symptoms and then avoid those things as much as possible.
Figuring out your asthma triggers
You might notice that your asthma flares up when you exercise outside in winter. Or maybe you get breathing problems when people smoke around you. Some triggers can be avoided easily - exercise indoors in winter if cold air is a problem. And don't allow people to smoke around you. Some triggers cannot be completely avoided, but you can do a lot to control your exposure to them.
|Triggers||What I can do to avoid or manage these triggers?|
|Chemical fumes, like those from household cleaners, paint fumes, oven cleaners, etc.||
|Dust mites - tiny bugs that live in dust. Dust mites are especially concentrated in mattresses, pillows, carpet, and bedding.||
|Pollen - grasses, weeds, flowers, trees||
|The common cold, viruses, and chest infections||
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