An asthma attack is often triggered by exposure to an allergen of some sort – an asthma trigger. Identifying a food or environmental asthma trigger can help you avoid it – and lessen the risk of an acute asthma attack. While there are some people who have food allergies or are especially sensitive to particular things, there are some items that are well-known, common asthma triggers. By controlling your exposure to an asthma trigger, you can reduce the severity and frequency of your asthma symptoms.
Dust mites are one of the most common asthma triggers known. Dust mites are tiny insects that live on sloughed off skin cells and excrete a substance that tends to trigger attacks in many people who have asthma. Dust mites breed and grow in mattresses, pillows, stuffed animals, carpets, draperies – anywhere that is soft and offers somewhere for them to burrow and hide. You can control dust mites in your environment by using covers on mattresses and pillows, getting rid of stuffed animals in bedrooms, and remove carpets and draperies.
Separate from dust mites, dust itself can be an asthma trigger because it’s a bronchial irritant. Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth to keep from scattering dust when cleaning, and use a canister (or water-filtered) vacuum cleaner to avoid spewing dust from the carpet into the air to be inhaled.
Mold spores are another asthma trigger found in many homes. To keep the exposure to mold down, wipe down bathroom tiles regularly with bleach or a disinfectant, dry clean laundry immediately and reduce moisture in the air with a dehumidifier.
Cockroach litter and parts contain an irritant/allergen that is an asthma trigger for many children. While most people associate cockroaches with dirt and poor housekeeping, cockroaches are just as happy in very clean homes. Roach traps and other insecticides can help keep the cockroach population down.
Shed skin cells from pets can be one of the most virulent of asthma triggers. If you can’t bring yourself to part with your pet, at least keep it out of the family sleeping areas to reduce the chance of exposure to pet dander.
At certain times of the year, pollen can become a pervasive asthma trigger. During hay fever season, particular if you live in an area that also has poor air quality. Many newspapers and radio stations publish a daily air quality rating. Make a point of knowing when the air quality is unhealthy and avoid going outside, or at least engaging in any vigorous activity outdoors.
Cold dry air can trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive to it. It may be because the cold tends to dry out bronchial tissues more quickly than warm moist air. In any case, wearing a scarf or face mask in cold temperatures, particularly if you’re exercising at all, can help reduce the incidence of asthma attacks due to cold.
Exercise can sometimes be an asthma trigger. The reason, doctors think, is most likely that during exercise most people breathe more quickly and shallowly, drying out lung and bronchial tissues more quickly.
Food and other allergies can also trigger asthma attacks. These are far more individualized, though peanuts are one of the more common. Obviously, if you’re aware of food allergies, avoiding them can help reduce your risk of having an asthma attack.