By Damian Lee
Wednesday 30 November 2022

Common Triggers for Asthma

Common Triggers for Asthma

Table of Contents

I. Airborne Irritants

II. Household Allergens

III. Underlying Health Conditions

IV. Weather-Related Triggers

Airborne Irritants

Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to constrict, swell, and produce excessive mucus. When asthma is triggered, breathing may become difficult. Those with asthma display common symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Mild asthma may be a slight inconvenience, but severe asthma can significantly impact everyday activities and can be life-threatening. There is no cure, but asthma symptoms can be controlled with medications. To help you manage the symptoms of asthma, MediCare Pharmacy has a dedicated asthma blog for your learning. Asthma can change and affect you differently over time; working with your doctor is essential to find efficient coping methods and the best treatment plan for you.

Because asthma is directly related to the air we breathe, airborne irritants are among the most common factors that can trigger asthma. Particles in the air may not necessarily be substances that you are allergic to, but they can still inflame sensitive airways and cause asthma complications. Air pollution is a leading cause of asthma attacks. In a study, a group of young people with moderate to severe asthma were 40 percent likelier to experience an asthma attack on days with high pollution than on days with average pollution. [1] Airborne triggers differ from person to person, but some common irritants include:

  • Charcoal grills
  • Chemicals (from factories, processing plants)
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Smog or ozone
  • Strong fumes, vapors, or odors (from paint, gasoline, perfumes, or other scented products)
  • Wood fires

pollution coming from a factory exhaust

Household Allergens

Household allergens are not exclusive to substances you may be exposed to at home. If you spend a lot of time indoors, whether at home, work, or school, you may discover that you have allergic asthma. As the name implies, allergic asthma occurs when the asthma is caused by an allergic reaction. Allergens can enter the body through touch, inhalation, or injection. A doctor can tell you if you have allergic asthma through a blood test. Your specific allergens can also be determined through this blood test. The most common household allergens include:

  • Cockroaches
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen

Dust mites and insects are often too small to spot with the naked eye, so it is important to clean your living and working areas even when they don’t seem contaminated. Mold can grow anytime there is moisture, so it is especially likely to grow in the bathtub or a damp basement. Many people are allergic to pollen. Although pollen is a seasonal allergen, airborne particles from trees, grasses, and weeds can linger in the air ducts of a building all year. [2]

Underlying Health Conditions

The symptoms of asthma may be worsened by other health conditions. When two or more diseases simultaneously affect a patient, it is called comorbidity. Comorbidities that commonly affect people with asthma include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): COPD refers to several lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD are similar to asthma symptoms.
  • Food-Induced Anaphylaxis: Asthma can have adverse reactions when in combination with a food allergy. The most common ingredient that triggers asthma symptoms is sulfites.
  • Obesity: Being overweight is linked to the onset of asthma and can worsen symptoms dramatically. Obese people have less lung volume, which may cause asthma medications to be less effective.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): OSA is a serious health risk that involves interruptions in breathing when sleeping. Combined with asthma, this comorbidity may lead to severe complications.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): This condition occurs when contents from the stomach enter the esophagus. Commonly known as heartburn, GERD can trigger asthma symptoms. [3]

 a diorama of the lungs

Weather-Related Triggers

For many people, certain types of weather can trigger asthma symptoms. This is because extreme weather can irritate the airways by affecting pollen count. Temperature also factors into the narrowing of the airways. Cold, dry air can trigger airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction) in those who have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Hot temperatures can also cause asthma symptoms. Heat and humidity often go hand in hand, and dust mites and mold enjoy thriving in these environments. Hot weather intensifies air pollution as well.

Thunderstorms may also indirectly trigger asthma. When it rains hard, pollen grains can break up and become smaller and easier to inhale. Thunderstorms can then whip up strong winds that spread pollen grains and carry them into your lungs. [2]

 a couple using an umbrella to brace in a harsh winter storm

For some people, fluctuations in emotions, or particularly strong emotions, can cause hyperventilation and an asthma attack. Some medications for other conditions may interact with asthma medication and cause complications. This is why it is incredibly important to be transparent about your medical history and health conditions when talking to your doctor about asthma.

If you are concerned with developing asthma or struggling to control asthma symptoms, contact your doctor and discuss possible treatment plans that fit your lifestyle and work. If prescribed asthma medication, visit an online pharmacy like MediCare Pharmacy to fill your prescription. Untreated asthma can lead to life-threatening situations, but getting on top of your condition early can still allow you to live a full life.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Reference Resources

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