If you are the one suffering from asthma, you must know there is no cure for it; the only way to deal with the condition is to avoid triggers that might cause irritation of the lungs. Since asthma triggers differ from person to person, it is essential to know the triggers beforehand to control the condition effectively. In addition to taking medications for the symptoms, it is a matter of concern if you experience symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and cough. Knowing the underlying cause of the disease is vital to prevent further asthmatic attacks.
Living with asthma is not an issue anymore! As long as you avoid triggers, asthma will not be a big deal.
How to prevent asthma attack| Things you should avoid to prevent asthma attacks
Stay away from the following common asthma triggers to prevent an asthmatic attack.
Dust, due to its allergy-inducing properties, causes havoc for asthmatics. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to maintain very high levels of hygiene and to keep rooms dust-free. You may do this by thoroughly vacuuming every nook and corner of the room.
Dust mites are microscopic pests that are present in many homes. If you have asthma, dust mites may trigger or aggravate your asthma. To prevent asthma attacks:
- Wash your bedding weekly and dry it thoroughly
- Avoid down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters
- Always use allergen-proof covers for mattresses and pillowcases to make a barrier between dust mites and yourself
- Vacuum rugs, carpets, and floors regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter
- Try to keep humidity levels in your home low, around 30- 50%
Pests (cockroaches, mice)
Cockroaches and other pests are often present where you serve food, and food particles are available. To control such problems in the home:
- Abolish as many water and food sources as possible
- Clean your dishes, food particles, and spills immediately
- Always keep trash in a closed container
- Always store food in airtight containers
- Every 2 to 3 days, vacuum or clean places that might attract mice or cockroaches
- Keep sinks, counters, tables, and floors clean and free of chaos
- Seal cracks or openings in cabinets, walls, baseboards, and plumbing
- Use pesticide baits and traps in areas away from children and pets, following manufacturers’ instructions
- Avoid sprays and foggers, as these may trigger an asthma attack
Furry pets may trigger an asthma attack if you are allergic to their hair. If a furry pet is triggering an asthma attack, you may find another home for your pet. If you don’t want to send him away, limit your exposure by:
- Bathing furry pets
- Keeping pets out of bedrooms
- Using an air cleaner with a HEPA filter
- Using an allergen-proof cover for your mattress and pillow
- Trimming excessive fur off your pet
Breathing in mould can trigger an asthma attack whether or not you are allergic to mould. Indoor mould growth is often present in damp areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements or where the water damage has occurred. There are many types of mould which may be found in any climate. Get rid of mould in your home to help control your attacks.
To reduce mould exposure in your home:
- Dry damp items within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mould growth.
- Fix water leaks, like leaky plumbing, which let mould grow behind walls and floors as early as possible.
- Replace absorbent materials, such as carpet and ceiling tiles, if mould exists.
- Use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to maintain low indoor humidity.
- Get a small hygrometer tool to check humidity levels and keep them as low as possible, not above 50%.
- Humidity levels change over the day, so check the humidity levels more than once a day.
- Scrub mould off hard surfaces with water and detergent and dry wholly.
- Regularly empty and clean your refrigerator and air conditioner drip pan.
- Open the window or switch on the bathroom exhaust fan while showering.
Outdoor Air Pollution
Outdoor air pollution may trigger an asthma attack. This pollution can come from various sources, including factories, cars, or wildfire smoke. Wildfire smoke from plants or burning wood comprises harmful gases and small particles. Breathing in too much of this smoke may cause an asthma attack.
Keep checking air quality forecasts on television, radio, and the internet. Also, read newspapers to plan your activities for low air pollution levels.
Pollen from flowers is a well-known trigger for asthma attacks, and hence, it goes without saying that one will do well by avoiding them. Moreover, growing plants indoors may be dangerous, too, since they can be a source of mould, which also triggers asthma. To prevent mould formation, ensure not to overwater plants, keep them in a sunny place and remove dead parts as soon as they appear.
Smoke and aromas in the kitchen
The smoke and aromas spread while cooking may significantly irritate people with asthma. So take steps to reduce such problems. First, make sure that your kitchen has proper ventilation. If an adequate exhaust fan or chimney is unavailable, ensure an open window in the kitchen to help the cooking smells escape outside.
Tobacco is unhealthy for us, especially for people with asthma. If you have asthma and smoke, it is better to quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains different chemicals and gases that can irritate the lungs. Smoking increases your asthma risk and worsens symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. In addition, smoking while pregnancy increases the risk of decreased lung function and wheezing in infants.
Passive smoke spreads when a person smokes and other people breathe that smoke. Passive smoke may trigger an asthma attack. Therefore, make your home a smoke-free zone. Convince household members who smoke to quit smoking. If you have asthma, people must not smoke near you, in your home, in your car, or wherever you spend your time.
Specific prescription and over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen and beta blockers) may trigger asthma attacks. If you are taking any medications, inform your doctor about the condition.
Yes! Even exercise may trigger an asthmatic attack. Vigorous or prolonged exercise or physical exertion triggers exercise-induced asthma. Narrowing of the airway begins 5 to 20 minutes after the activity starts, making it difficult to catch your breath.
Whenever we breathe, the air is first warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. However, people tend to breathe through their mouths and inhale cold and dry air during exercise. In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around your airways are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. They react by contracting, which narrows the airway, triggering symptoms of exercise-induced asthma.
Humid and hot weather or cold weather causes asthma symptoms to flare up. Even though the weather changes cannot be controlled, asthmatic patients should ensure that they do not expose themselves to varying temperatures in a short time. The severity of the symptoms increases during winter.
Extreme emotional arousal
Extreme emotions such as anxiety, anger and fear might induce stress, which changes heart-rate and breathing patterns. The rapid, shallow breathing causes constriction of airways and may consequently lead to an asthmatic attack.
The most common foods often linked with allergic symptoms are eggs, cow milk, peanuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shrimp. In addition, food preservatives like sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite and sodium sulfite may also trigger asthma.
Cleaners and Disinfectants
Disinfectants may trigger an asthma attack. People with asthma should stay away when cleaners or disinfectants are used. Follow these precautions while cleaning or disinfecting places where people with asthma may spend time, like homes, schools, or workplaces:
- Always avoid overusing products. To limit your exposure to asthma triggers, follow a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Use safer products. Any disinfectant may trigger an asthma attack, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of that happening:
- Use soap and water or harmless cleaners to clean surfaces. Before disinfecting, always clean dirty surfaces.
- Never try to mix two disinfectant products.
- Try to choose disinfectants less likely to trigger an asthma attack, like products with hydrogen peroxide (not more potent than 3%) or ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Use products with hydrogen peroxide or ethanol free of harmful chemicals, like peroxyacetic or peracetic acid.
- Do not use bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or quaternary ammonium compounds in enclosed spaces and limit their use.
- Avoid products with fragrances. The fragrances may also trigger asthma attacks.
- Make sure there is enough airflow (ventilation).
- Open the doors and windows to bring in the fresh air if it’s safe.
- Allow air ventilation by using exhaust fans. The most effective way to remove disinfectant vapours is to exhaust the air.
- For buildings with heating or cooling systems with fresh (outdoor) air intakes, turn on the new air intake to bring in the fresh air.
If you have asthma, an asthma attack may happen on exposure to asthma triggers. Your triggers may be different from other asthmatics. Identify what triggers your asthma and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an asthma attack when you can’t avoid the triggers.