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What Causes Asthma Flare Ups

What Causes An Asthma Flare

Asthma flare-up season is here!

Things that can cause you to have an asthma flare-up are called “triggers.” Different kids have different triggers. Common triggers include:

  • breathing in things that cause allergies , such as dust, pollen, dander from animals, and mold
  • breathing in things that irritate your airways, like cigarette smoke, perfume, and chalk dust
  • infections, like a cold or the flu
  • breathing in cold air

When Asthma Is Triggered By Exercise

For many asthma sufferers, flare-ups can be triggered by exercise as the airways constrict. If you suffer from exercise-induced asthma you will probably feel the symptoms of an asthma attack starting five to 15 minutes after you start to work out. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are likely to subside 30 to 60 minutes after you stop exercising. Warming up before vigorous exercise can help to prevent this. It is important that you consult with your healthcare provider about how to approach exercise when you live with asthma, so you can continue to live a healthy life.

When To Call A Professional

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough

Some children with asthma may not complain specifically of shortness of breath. However, they may flare their nostrils or use their chest and neck muscles when breathing. These are signs that they are having trouble.

If you already have been diagnosed with asthma, call your doctor if your symptoms:

  • Are getting worse
  • Are not being controlled by your regular medications

For example, call your doctor if you must use your rescue bronchodilator more than four times a day. Also call if your peak-flow-meter readings are in the yellow or red zones.

If you have an asthma attack and your symptoms persist despite your usual medications, seek emergency help immediately.

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What Happens In An Asthma Flare

Asthma is a disease of the breathing tubes that deliver air in and out of the lungs. When someone has asthma, these airways might be slightly inflamed or swollen, even when the person seems to be breathing fine.

During a flare-up:

  • The inflammation gets worse. Sticky mucus clogs the airways and their walls get more swollen.
  • The muscles around the airways get tight, further narrowing them .

These problems leave very little room in the airways for air to flow through think of a straw that’s being pinched.

What Is An Asthma Action Plan

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.

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What Causes Asthma

Asthma is caused by swelling and narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs when the body overreacts to something foreign. The muscles in the airways contract which increases the narrowing even more. These factors make it difficult for the person to breath. It is unknown why exactly this happens, but doctors have determined that certain things can trigger this bodily reaction.

Who Can Get Asthma

Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.

Statistics show women tend to have asthma more than men, and asthma affects Black Americans more frequently than other races.

When a child develops asthma, healthcare providers call it childhood asthma. If it develops later in life, its adult-onset asthma.

Children do not outgrow asthma. They may have fewer symptoms as they get older, but they could still have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

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What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers

An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.

For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.

Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:

  • Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
  • Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
  • Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
  • Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
  • Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
  • Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
  • Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
  • Strong chemicals or smells.

With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.

What Asthma Treatment Options Are There

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You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
  • Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
  • Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.

You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.

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Sighing And Quick Breathing

Shortness of breath is a classic asthma symptom. Its the result of airway constriction during a flare-up.

Taking quick breaths is a more unusual asthma symptom, though. Its done as a means of getting more oxygen into the lungs.

Rapid breathing may also come in the form of constant sighing or yawning. You may not even realize youre doing it. While sighing is often due to stress or anxiety, it occasionally can be a sign of asthma.

Youre Coughing And Wheezing More During The Day

Another sign that your severe asthma may be getting worse is if youre coughing or wheezing more often. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your treatment plan if you constantly feel like youre about to cough. If you find yourself wheezing with a whistle-like sound more than once a day, seek your doctors opinion as well.

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How Do I Handle An Asthma Flare

If you feel like a flare-up is about to happen, stay calm. Let people around you know what’s going on. Then remember your asthma action plan. That’s the written plan that tells you what to do next.

Stay calm and focus on what your asthma action plan says. Your doctor probably told you to use your quick-relief medicine, so do that first.

If you can figure out what triggered your symptoms , remove the trigger or yourself from the area. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your asthma under control again.

If a flare-up is more severe, you might need to get help.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Asthma Flare

Common symptoms are coughing, shortness of breath , a feeling of tightness in the chest and wheezing. It’s important to watch yourself every day for symptoms of asthma. You may have only one or two of these symptoms.

Another clue that your asthma is flaring up is that you have to take extra doses of your quick-relief asthma medicine more than twice a week because of these symptoms.

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Treating And Managing Flare

Talk to your doctor about how to handle flare-ups, and let them know if they happen a lot. They may need to change your treatment plan.

Some flare-ups get better after you rest and take over-the-counter pain meds for a couple of days. Call your doctor if they last longer than that, or if your symptoms are intense.

Medication changes. You might need to adjust your medication temporarily, or add a new one. Medicines that can help with flares include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , either prescription or over-the-counter. You may take them as a pill or put them on your skin. Acetaminophen helps some people. Your doctor may also inject steroids into your joints.

Rest. One of the best ways to deal with a flare is to take it easy. Take a sick day if you need to. Ask family members to help out with chores. But try not to stop moving completely. Do a few gentle stretches to keep yourself from getting stiff.

Hot and cold therapies. Moist heat around your joints boosts blood flow and relaxes muscles. A warm paraffin wax dip may make your hands or feet feel better. A special machine heats the wax, which is the same type used in candles.

If too much exercise causes flare-ups for you, use an ice pack right after your workout to ease pain. A cold compress may help at other times, too. Cold constricts your blood vessels, which decreases blood flow. That leads to less pain.

Limit the use of either of these methods to two to four times a day, for no more than 15 minutes at a time.

You Sometimes Have Trouble Speaking

If you find it difficult to speak a full sentence without having to pause to take a breath, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Trouble speaking is usually the result of an inability to take enough air into your lungs to allow you to let it out at the slow, deliberate rate required for speech.

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What Causes Asthma Symptoms To Flare Up

Your asthma can flare up for different reasons. If you’re allergic to dust mites, pollens or molds, they can make your asthma symptoms get worse. Cold air, exercise, fumes from chemicals or perfume, tobacco or wood smoke, and weather changes can also make asthma symptoms worse. So can common colds and sinus infections. Gastroesophageal reflux can also cause flare-ups. You can help yourself by paying attention to the way these things affect your asthma. Your doctor might test you to find out if you’re allergic to something. Then your doctor can help you avoid the things that bother your asthma.

How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

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Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test. Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs.

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How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms

Monitoring your asthma symptoms is an essential piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may have you use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.

Can I Prevent Asthma Flare

You have the power to prevent flare-ups, at least some of the time. Here’s what you can do:

  • Always have your inhaler with you.
  • Stay away from triggers that you know may cause flare-ups. Try to avoid being around smokers â and don’t smoke yourself.
  • If you use a long-term control medicine, follow your doctor’s instructions for taking it every day. Don’t skip it or take less because you feel OK.
  • Work with your parents and doctor to follow your asthma action plan.

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How To Prevent An Asthma Attack

Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.

Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.

Why Asthma Can Be Worse In Winter And Steps To Manage Attacks

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects nearly 25 million people in America. Its a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult and often comes with lung spasms, wheezing, and chest tightness.

Your lungs are made of bronchi that transport air to and from your lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are easily inflamed. Inflamed airways swell, closing your breathing passages and making it hard for air to reach your lungs.

Changes in your environment like weather, dust, and smoke can make your lungs extra sensitive. For many asthmatics, winter weather brings more frequent asthma attacks. The doctors at Wasatch Peak Family Practice can help you find an asthma treatment plan that works with your lifestyle.

One of the best things you can do to prevent and manage asthma attacks in winter is to understand your triggers and know your treatment plan. Let us help you understand your asthma and how to control it.

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How Is Asthma Treated

Caring for your asthma means doing two things: avoiding things that cause flare-ups and taking medicines if your doctor prescribes them.

Avoiding Triggers

Once you know what your triggers are, you and your parents can take steps to avoid them. Here are some ideas:

  • Change your sheets and vacuum often to rid your home of dust.
  • Keep your pet out of your bedroom if you’re allergic to pet dander.
  • Stay inside on days when pollen counts are high .

If exercise makes your asthma worse, the doctor may prescribe a medicine to take before exercising to prevent your airways from tightening up.

Taking Medicines

It’s not always possible to avoid triggers, so most kids who have asthma also take medicine.

Not every kid’s asthma is the same. That’s why there are different kinds of medicines for treating it:

  • One kind is called quick-relief medicine . It works fast to help open a kid’s airways so he or she can breathe again.
  • The other kind is called long-term control medicine . It’s a daily medicine that helps keep flare-ups from happening.

You should take your medicine as directed by your doctor. If you don’t, your asthma could get worse and you might even end up in the hospital.

You doctor will create a special plan for dealing with your asthma. This is called an asthma action plan, and should be given to everyone who cares for you, including teachers and camp counselors.

Using an Inhaler

Most asthma medicines need to be breathed in, and an inhaler helps get medicine into the lungs.

Early Symptoms Of A Flare Up You Might Not Recognize

We all know the hallmark signs that we are about to experience a flare up of our autoimmune symptoms. You cant ignore the debilitating fatigue, unusual rashes, and fevers, or achy joints and muscles that announce we are under serious attack by our immune system. But did you realize that our body offers us subtle clues our immune system is gearing up for a fight long before the obvious symptoms kick in? If we can become adept at listening to our body we can offer it the extra rest and TLC it needs to prepare to win a flare up battle. Here are ten of the early symptoms of a flare-up that you might not recognize.

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Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma

People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.

If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.

You Cant Maintain Your Normal Exercise Routine

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You may notice that youre unable to keep up with any type of physical activity if your severe asthma symptoms are getting worse.

Talk to your doctor if you find yourself coughing or having to use your inhaler more often at the gym or during activities like jogging or playing sports. If your chest tightens more often during everyday physical activities like climbing the stairs or walking around the block, you may need to change your medications to get your symptoms under control.

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What Causes Asthma Flare

Things like smoke or perfume can bring on breathing problems for people with asthma. These are called triggers.

Different people have different triggers. For some people a trigger may be cold air, exercise, or infections . For others triggers might be allergens like animal dander, dust mites, or mold.

Triggers can cause flare-ups because they make the swelling in the airways worse and increase the amount of mucus. Triggers also can cause the muscles around the airways to tighten, making the airways even narrower.

If a flare-up isn’t treated it can last for several hours or even days. Quick-relief medicines often take care of the symptoms pretty fast. Most people feel better after a flare-up is over, though it can take several days to completely clear up.