What're the asthma triggers?Many risk factors have been linked to triggering asthma attacks. Individuals are more likely to have asthma if there is a family history of the disease. Several biological and environmental factors can trigger an asthma attack. There are two basic types of asthma triggers, allergic triggers, also known as allergens are associated with intrinsic asthma. The second type are non-allergic triggers associated with extrinsic asthma. Allergy plays a key role in about half of all asthma cases. After
exposure to an allergen, the body releases chemicals that produce conditions associated with an attack. Common allergens in the environment are pollen, dust mites, cockroaches, bacteria, molds, animal hair and animal dander. Triggers are different for different individuals. Common ones include the following:
Common food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), can cause an asthma attack. Environmental pollutants are irritating to the lungs and can cause reactions similar to those caused by allergens.
Mold is the greenish, gray, or black material that grows in damp places. Molds or fungi release microscopic particles called spores for their reproduction. These spores can float through open windows into the house, especially on cool nights in the spring and fall. Asthma attacks may also be triggered by the type of mold that grows in the house.
Common indoor pollutants associated with asthma include second-hand tobacco smoke, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and combustion gases. Common outdoor pollutants associated with asthma include ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen and sulfur compounds.
About 5% to 20% of adults with asthma have attacks triggered by sensitivities or allergies to sulfites and to medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, and naproxen. People with asthma should consult their physicians before taking any new medication, including those available without a prescription. Sulfites are often used to preserve foods and beverages, including tuna, foods available at salad bars, dried apples and raisins, lemon juice, grape juice, and wine.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures related to the spider family. They are invisible to the human eye and are about 0.3mm in length. They live on human skin flakes and require water vapor to survive. They are most prevalent in the bedroom where millions can exist in your mattress, boxspring, pillows and comforters. They are also found in upholstered furniture, carpeting and other fabric items. Dust mites produce 20 or more fecal pellets per day, which is the primary allergen to humans. We inhale these allergens while sleeping and during periods when these particle become airborne such as when vacuuming and disturbing the infested fabrics.
Pollen are microscopic particles released by plants for their reproduction. Pollen is more a cause of hay fever than asthma. But there are some people with allergic asthma who clearly have problems with ragweed and other typical plant pollens that can cause a flare-up in their asthma.
Deep, rapid breathing during exercise also can trigger an asthma attack. Though breathing may become difficult and uncomfortable, exercise still benefits an asthmatic's overall health. By taking proper steps to avoid an attack, most asthmatics can fully participate in physical activities.
Inhaling smoke from cigarettes or fires harms the airways and is especially hard on the airways of people with asthma. In fact, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than half of the cases of asthma in people over 40 years of age.
Asthma symptoms that occur at night are part of nighttime asthma, or nocturnal asthma, a very common condition for many people with asthma. Sleep is not the actual trigger, but while we sleep the airways tend to narrow and mucus tends to build up in the airways, often triggering a bout of coughing. At night there are changes in body chemicals, which allow airway inflammation to increase. The drop in body temperature at night causes airway cooling and narrowing.
The onset of asthma may be seasonal. Weather affects different people in different ways. Heat, humidity, air pollution, and pollen counts in the summer can trigger an asthma episode in some people. In others, the wet conditions of the spring and fall may encourage the growth of certain molds that can trigger an attack. For others, the buildup of smoke, animal dander, and mites in a sealed house in the winter can aggravate asthma. Or, the cold temperature outside may serve as a trigger during physical activity.
Emotions do not cause asthma, but sometimes laughing, crying, and yelling stimulates nerves that cause the tiny muscles in the walls of airways to tighten in sensitive lungs. People with asthma can become angry or frustrated with their condition and may refuse to take the medicines that will help them. Thus, in an indirect way, emotions such as anger may contribute to asthma symptoms.
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by a variety of health-related factors such as respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu, sinusitis, and allergies (pollen, mold, dander). Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder in which the acid contents of the stomach enter the lower part of esophagus. In sensitive individuals, this may cause the asthma to worsen. Heartburn and nighttime asthma symptoms may indicate GERD disease.
A variety of chemicals and gasses are present around the home that can trigger allergic reactions. Gasses in tobacco smoke and wood smoke from fireplaces along with vapors from building materials and home furnishings may be present in your indoor environment. Chemically laden household cleaning products and personal care products may produce gasses and vapors that may result in allergic reactions.