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Asthma: Symptoms, Triggers & Management

Dr. G. Sarwar Chaudhry

3 min read

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Asthma is a chronic disease in which the airways become inflamed, narrow and filled with mucus. Inflammation and swelling of the mucosal membrane lining the airways increases irritation, leading to a host of symptoms which are discussed below:

Asthma symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue

What triggers asthma?

The causes of asthma can vary from person to person as can the reaction of different people to the same trigger. These allergens or irritants trigger and worsen asthma symptoms.

To avoid one’s specific triggers, identification is the first key. Reduced exposure to one’s respective triggers helps in managing and dealing with asthma in a better way. The most common and major triggers are listed below:

Inflammatory (allergic) triggers & management

The allergic triggers of asthma and their management is discussed below:

1- Colds and respiratory infections

If you have asthma, colds and other respiratory infections are triggering and hit hard. Avoid contacting others that have a cold or flu and if you contract an infection, make sure to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

2- Dust mites

If you allergic to dust mites, your asthma symptoms may worsen. Dust mites, spiders and tiny bugs are inconspicuously small and usually live in house dust. Bedding, upholsters, furniture and carpets are suitable environments for their growth. By cleaning your house thoroughly, you may reduce the number of dust mites in your house to relieve you of your asthma symptoms.

3- Pollen and outdoor mold

If you have an allergy to pollen or outdoor mold, pollen season may be tougher and longer for you. In early spring tree pollens, grass pollens in late spring and early summer, and weed pollens in late summer and fall, strike and cause problems. The only way to manage asthma in this case is to keep your windows and doors closed and avoid outdoor exposure during the late morning and afternoon hours.

4- Cockroaches

Most asthmatics are allergic to the dried droppings and remains of cockroaches. To avoid cockroaches, one should kept food items in closed containers and use traps and sprays to eliminate them. When using a cockroach-repellent spray, stay out of the room until the smell goes away completely.

5- Indoor Mold

Moisture causes mold, so get rid of excess water by cleaning surfaces, fixing pipes or leaky taps, and turning on exhaust fans while taking shower.

6- Pets

Some people are allergic to the dander (the flakes of skin), dried saliva, or urine that comes from animals with fur or feathers.  Don’t allow your pets into your bedroom and vacuum your carpet frequently, removing their dander using filters. Bathing your dog or cat weekly may reduce the dander.

Non-allergic triggers & management

Following are the non-allergic triggers of asthma and their management:

1. Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking risks one’s life and may cause life threatening diseases. The same is the case with asthma; smoking is one of its major triggers. Even if you do not smoke but someone else around you smokes, you are also more likely to experience asthma attacks.  You need to quit smoking or stay out of smoke-filled places in order to stay healthy and safe. If you wish to quit smoking, there are many options available to assist you in doing so.

2. Exercise

Asthma symptoms are also exacerbated by exercise which is known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). This does not mean one should stop playing sports and drop all healthy physical activities. All this means is, an asthmatic needs to ask their health care professional to prescribe some medication and recommend the most suitable warm-up techniques.

3. Weather

Extreme weather conditions is also a common trigger. People with asthma are sensitive to cold temperatures. These people should cover their nose and mouth during cold and windy weathers to keep their problem under control.

4. Stress

Intense emotions like stress and anxiety may play a role in triggering asthma. Even though controlling one’s emotions is hard, it is still manageable. Try to avoid situations that trigger your stress, do recommended, light exercises to relieve your stress, don’t over-burden yourself, maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, relax your muscles and seek social support from family or friends.

5. Food sensitivities

Most asthmatics find that foods and beverages containing the preservative sulfate trigger their asthma symptoms. Pay attention to what you eat and drink if you have been suffering from flare-ups.  Beer, wine, shrimp, and dried fruits are some examples to avoid.

6. Strong odors or sprays

Asthmatics may be very sensitive to strong odors and chemicals. So they should avoid using perfumes, powders, sprays and paints. Ask your family not to use perfumed products as it may trigger your asthma symptoms.

Asthma is an ongoing condition that needs regular monitoring and treatment. Manage your asthma by working with our health care expert to identify and then minimize your triggers.

You can book an appointment with our expert doctors pulmonologist from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through Oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the Right doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. G. Sarwar Chaudhry
Dr. G. Sarwar Chaudhry - Author Dr. G. Sarwar Chaudhry is a top Pulmonologist with 17 years of experience currently practicing at Australian Polyclinic, Lahore. You can book an in-person appointment or an online video consultation with Dr. G. Sarwar Chaudhry through oladoc.com or by calling at 04238900939.
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