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Triggers of Asthma
Allergens are an important triggering factor of asthma. Some examples of outdoor and indoor allergens are:
House Dust/Dust Mites
Viral infections of the respiratory tract often act as a major aggravating trigger, since they often irritate the airways, nose, throat, lungs, and sinuses. The irritation often precedes attacks of asthma, although the exact biological mechanism for this is not yet known.
Sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, often begins as an upper respiratory infection. Childhood symptoms include wheezing, postnasal drip, night time cough, and enlarged lymph nodes. Adolescents and adults may have headaches and sinus pressure or pain. Asthma may be aggravated by drainage of mucus into the nose, throat and bronchial tubes.
Some examples of irritants that play a large role in triggering asthma are:
Strong odors and sprays, such as perfumes, household cleaners, cooking fumes (especially from frying), paints, and varnishes.
Other chemicals such as coal, chalk dust or talcum powder.
Changing weather conditions, including changes in temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and strong winds.
TOBACCO SMOKE AND WOOD SMOKE
Tobacco smoke, whether directly or passively inhaled, has harmful effects on the airways and is especially irritating for patients with asthma. An increased incidence of asthma has been reported in children whose mothers and fathers smoke. No one should smoke in the home of an asthmatic patient.
Smoke from wood-burning heating stoves and fireplaces can be extremely irritating to asthmatics because of the release of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide. When using these stoves, proper ventilation is important. However, it is best for asthmatics to avoid using them if possible.
Exercise also can trigger an asthma attack. It is estimated that 85% of allergic asthmatics have symptoms of wheezing following exercise. Inhaled cool and dry air seems to be a strong asthma trigger. Long-term strenuous activities such as long distance running are most likely to induce asthma; swimming the least.
Gastroesophageal reflux, a condition characterized by persistent reflux of stomach acids, is common in individuals with asthma. Symptoms may include heartburn, belching or spitting up (especially in infants). Night time asthma is common.
EXPOSURE TO CHEMICAL IRRITANTS ON THE JOB
Studies indicate that many cases of asthma in the U.S. are worsened or caused by exposure to occupational vapors, dust, gases, or fumes. Typically, occupational asthma improves when the individual is away from the workplace for several days, e.g., weekends and vacation. However, long-term exposure to certain irritants may cause asthma attacks even when the individual has been removed from those asthma triggers.
SENSITIVITY TO MEDICATION
Up to 20% of adult asthmatic patients experience an asthma attack as a result of sensitivities or allergies to medications. Medications that are known to induce asthma attacks include:
Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications in patients with aspirin sensitivity, such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, etc.
Sulfites used as food and beverage preservatives.
Before taking any medications, including over-the-counter medications, asthmatics should consult their physician.
Emotional anxiety and nervous stress cause fatigue and may increase asthma symptoms and aggravate an attack. However, these psychological factors alone cannot provoke asthma and are considered more of an effect than a cause.
If you believe one of the above triggers is causing you to have asthma, you should call today to be seen at our office.
Quick Links to Allergy and Asthma Non-Profit Organizations
The information provided in this Web site is not intended to replace consultation with your physician.
Entire contents © 2016 Ulrich O. Ringwald, M.D. Reproduction in whole or in part without
express written permission is prohibited.