Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. It affects the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs, also known as airways. The constant inflammation makes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath an everyday struggle. Some substances can worsen these symptoms and cause an asthma attack. However, by avoiding common triggers, you can prevent a flare-up.
It’s the best way to control asthma. Remember, there isn’t a cure! Treatment depends on continuous management for the rest of your life. Everyone has different triggers, so pay attention to your own. You’ll avoid life-threatening asthma attacks and feel good each and every day.
Over 25 million Americans have asthma. It often crops up in childhood, so you might already know what sets you off. In fact, 7 million of those people are children, so it’s never too early to learn self-management.1 These are the top seven asthma triggers and how to avoid them.
The Top Asthma Triggers
1. Secondhand Smoke Can Be Equally Bad
Cigarette smoke is bad news for anyone. But for someone with asthma, it can spark a serious flare-up. It doesn’t help that secondhand smoke has over 4,000 chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. In children, secondhand smoke might even cause a new case of asthma. After all, they’re still growing, making them more vulnerable to the damaging effects of smoke.2
How To Avoid Secondhand Smoke
If someone is smoking, leave the area. Don’t let people smoke in your home or car. Always opt for “No Smoking” seating areas and hotel rooms.
2. Dust Mites Are Found Everywhere
Dust mites are tiny bugs that feed on the skin we shed. They’re absolutely everywhere mattresses, pillows, clothes, stuffed animals, and carpets. If it has fabric, it has dust mites. These little guys are also known for triggering asthma and allergies. They can’t be totally removed, but it’s possible to limit exposure.3
How To Avoid Dust Mites
Wash bedding and blankets once a week in hot water, at least 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuffed animals should also be washed. Cover mattresses and pillows in anti-allergen cases.4 Dust with a damp mop or rag, and vacuum once a week. Get rid of rugs, fabric décor, curtains, and upholstered furniture. If you can afford it, replace carpeted rooms with tile or wood.5
3. Mold Triggers A Flare-Up
For some people, breathing in mold triggers a flare-up. Unfortunately, mold spores are everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. When they land on a moist surface, they can grow and thrive. The bathroom and kitchen are popular homes for mold.
How To Avoid Mold
Keep the air moving. Open up windows and turn on fans, especially when showering or washing dishes. If something is wet, dry it as soon as possible. Use soap and water to clean mold on dry surfaces. Avoid high humidity with air conditioners and de-humidifiers. Aim for a low humidity of 30 to 50 percent. A hygrometer which is available at hardware stores can measure humidity at home.6
4. Pets Can Easily Cause A Flare-Up
If you’re allergic to animal dander, avoid pets. This includes hamsters, bunnies, and any warm-blooded mammal. The proteins in their skin, fur, saliva, and urine can trigger an asthma flare-up.
How To Avoid Flare-Ups From Pets
Stay away from animals no matter how cute they are! Keep them off furniture and beds. Frequently vacuum carpets and furniture. If you have asthma and a pet, consider finding another home for your furry friend.
5. Chemicals Can Irritate Your Airways
From perfume to cleaners, many “ordinary” products are full with chemicals. These may irritate your airways, causing symptoms or flare-ups. Pay attention to how you react to certain products.
How To Avoid Chemicals
If you react to a product, avoid it. Make homemade versions when possible. For example, vinegar and lemon works as a gentle cleaner. Instead of scented candles, use essential oils.
6. Pollution Can Aggravate Asthma Even More
Pollution is caused by several things: car exhaust, road dust, and factory emissions. Pollen and smoke also add to the mix. Poor air quality is much more common in congested, busy cities. Beyond asthma symptoms, outdoor pollution might also cause watery eyes, digestive problems, fever, and sneezing.
How To Avoid Pollution
You can’t control the outdoors, but you can change how you interact with it. Stay away from high-traffic areas. Use an air conditioner to filter incoming air, and regularly check the air quality in your area. If outdoor pollution makes it hard to function, consider moving farther out from a city.
7. Wood Smoke Can Be Irritating To The Lungs
Smoke from burning wood can irritate your airways. This might come from fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, or bonfires. Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains dangerous gases and chemicals. Sensing a theme?
How To Avoid Wood Smoke
Only burn dry wood that has been properly prepared and stored for at least six months. Replace old wood stoves, which cause 70 percent more pollution than older models. Don’t use a fireplace unless it’s necessary.7
Asthma might be chronic, but it’s possible to control. Treatment depends on your actions. By avoiding common triggers, you can lead a happy and healthy life.
|↑1||What Is Asthma? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute?|
|↑2||Asthma Triggers: Gain Control. United States Environmental Protection Agency.|
|↑3, ↑5||Dust Mites. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.|
|↑4||Asthma Triggers: Gain Control. United States Environmental Protection Agency.|
|↑6, ↑7||Asthma Triggers: Gain Control. United States Environmental Protection Agency.|