Asthma is a chronic disease. That means once you have it, you probably have it for life. People with asthma have sensitized airways. That means they become inflamed and swollen more easily. Specific asthma triggers such as pollen, pet dander, mites, tobacco, smoke, and mold, can cause the airways’ muscles to contract. At the same time, the airways can produce a large amount of mucus. Any of these factors can make it difficult for people with asthma to breathe.
Common asthma triggers and recommendations for their control
Not all people react in the same way to the same asthma triggers. Although it can be challenging to avoid them all the time, here are some methods that can help you control them.
POLLEN AND MOLD
- Keep the windows closed. Use the air conditioning whenever you can.
- Stay indoors from late morning until late afternoon when mold and pollen spore levels are highest.
- If you have to be outside during high pollen hours, shower after the exposure.
- Refers to dry skin flakes or saliva from animals with hair or feathers.
- Bathe your pets weekly, if possible.
- If you can, keep your pets out of the house.
- Keep your pets out of the bedroom.
HEPA filters (High-Efficiency Particulate Filters) can reduce airborne animal allergens.
Many people have had asthma or have asthma symptoms when they exercise. This is known as exercise-induced asthma. Your symptoms can appear between 5 and 20 minutes after the start of exercise and can continue for some time after you have finished.
- Warm-up, stretching: warming up before exercise and gradual stretching afterward can reduce flare-ups.
- Protect yourself from the cold – Cold air is a common asthma trigger. Use a scarf to cover your nose and mouth. If possible, choose a warm and humid place to exercise.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you control exercise-induced asthma. Follow their prompts.
- Choose the right sports: In general, swimming and short-distance running are suitable for people with exercise-induced asthma. However, sports that require extended periods of exertion with very little rest, such as long-distance running or soccer, can cause more flare-ups of asthma. These sports should be practiced with caution, but consult your doctor first.
- Do not allow smoking in your house or car.
Mites are small arthropods that are found in every home.
- Use an anti-dust mite cover for the mattress.
- Keep the stuffed animals out of bed or wash them every week in hot water.
- Keep food and garbage in closed containers. Never leave food out.
- If you use a cockroach control spray to get rid of them, stay out of the room until the smell is gone.
- Repair leaky faucets and pipes.
- Clean moldy surfaces with a bleach cleaner.
SMOKE STRONG ODORS AND SPRAYERS
- Try not to use wood stoves or fireplaces.
- Try to stay away from strong smells and sprays like perfumes, talcum powder, hairspray, and paints.
Improve asthma control
Most people who actively control their asthma can control their symptoms and lead everyday, active lives. Better asthma control can:
- Help avoid ongoing symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.
- Decrease the need to use a rescue inhaler.
- Help you sleep at night and do normal activities during the day.
- Help prevent severe asthma attacks that could land you in the hospital.
Your doctor can help you:
- Developing a treatment plan.
- Informing you about the different treatments.
- Answering your questions clearly and simply.
You can help your doctor:
- Making a list of questions to ask yourself to make sure you understand your treatment.
- Taking the medication as directed by the doctor.
- Carrying out follow-up consultations with your doctor.
Together, these steps can help you control your asthma so that you can do most of the things you love.