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Asthma Triggers

One of the most important elements of asthma control is identifying your asthma triggers and knowing how to reduce your exposure to them.  While not everyone’s triggers are the same, there are several common irritants that many people with asthma react to.  If you react to any of these top asthma triggers, try to avoid them, or, if you know you’ll be exposed to them, be prepared in case they cause an attack.  

  • Tobacco smoke-Everyone knows smoking is bad news, and for people with asthma, this is especially true.  Even secondhand smoke, or smoke created by another person and breathed in by a non-smoker, is dangerous for an asthmatic.  If you have asthma and smoke, or if someone in your home has asthma, it’s time to quit.  You’ll not only be saving your lungs, you’ll be saving your life! 
  • Dust mites-These microscopic bugs are found in every home, no matter how much of a clean freak you are, and they can trigger an attack in asthmatics who are sensitive to dust.  While it is impossible to create a completely dust-free home, using dust mite covers on mattresses and pillows can cut down on exposure, as can frequent dusting and vacuuming.
  • Outdoor Air Pollution-Air pollution from cars, factories, and other sources reduces the air quality and can trigger an attack. This is a major concern for asthmatics living in urban areas.   While you can’t barricade yourself in your home or live in a bubble to avoid outdoor air pollution, you can reduce your exposure on days when air quality is especially poor.  Pay attention to air quality reports on television and heed warnings to stay indoors on poor air quality days.
  • Cockroaches-Cockroaches and their droppings are a common trigger, so it is important to limit exposure.  If you have a cockroach problem in your home, call in an exterminator to take care of the infestation and once you’ve taken care of the problem, get rid of any food or water sources they may be attracted to.  To prevent cockroaches from moving into your home, vacuum every 2 to 3 days to eliminate any crumbs and use traps to catch any roaches so that you don’t risk an invasion and can limit exposure to this trigger.
  • Pets-One of the most common asthma triggers, animal dander from your furry friends may be causing your asthma attacks but emotionally, it may be the hardest for you to limit your exposure to.  If you suspect it’s Fido that’s causing your asthma attacks but aren’t willing to get rid of the family pet, keep him outside as much as possible, bathe him every week, and keep him out of the asthmatic’s bedroom to limit exposure
  • Mold-Mold is a dangerous asthma trigger that can go unseen as it hides in walls and behind fixtures in your home or office.  Get rid of any mold you can see, and if you suspect you have mold behind the walls, hire someone to take care of it and fix water leaks that can lead to mold issues. High humidity encourages mold growth, so an air conditioner or dehumidifier is a good investment to help keep humidity, and in turn mold levels, in your home down. 
  • Smoke from burning wood or gas-May people enjoy the smell of burning leaves, wood, or grass in the summer and fall, but for asthmatics, that smell, and the small particles and gasses that come along with burning outdoor materials, can mean an attack is in the air.  Avoid burning outdoor materials, or, if there is a wildfire in your area or your neighbors are burning leaves and brush, keep windows and door shut and sealed tight to limit your exposure. 
  • Other triggers-Other common triggers for asthmatics include the common cold, the flu, and other respiratory viruses, physical exercises, certain foods and food additives, cold air, high humidity, perfumes, and certain medicines. 

Remember, the first line of defense in asthma control is avoiding your known triggers! 

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