Move Away From Triggers
The presence of asthma triggers wont only cause an attack, they can also make your symptoms worse. Be sure to try to get away from things that may be triggering your asthma attack.
For example, if youre in an area where people are smoking cigarettes, you should move away promptly.
Its also important to know your triggers. Common triggers include:
- , such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods
You should always be sure to seek immediate emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:
- your symptoms continue to get worse even after treatment
- you cant speak except in short words or phrases
- youre straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
- your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
- you begin to feel drowsy or tired
- your lips or face appear blue when youre not coughing
Symptoms that indicate that you could be experiencing an asthma attack include:
- severe shortness of breath
About Nitrogen Dioxide And Asthma
Nitrogen dioxide is an odorless gas that can irritate your eyes, nose and throat and cause shortness of breath. Indoor NO2 can come from using appliances that burn fuels such as gas, kerosene and wood.;
In people with asthma, exposure to low levels of NO2 may cause increased bronchial reactivity and make young children more susceptible to respiratory infections. Long-term exposure to high levels of NO2 can lead to chronic bronchitis. Studies show a connection between breathing elevated short-term NO2concentrations, and increased visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions for respiratory issues, especially asthma.
If You Suspect You Might Have Asthma Definitely Head To The Doctor
Your doctor will probably give you a physical exam first to examine the general state of your health. After that, theyll likely put you through some lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which checks how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath as well as how fast you can expel air, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or they may do a peak flow test, which measures how hard you can breathe out. If you cant exhale enough air or breathe out quickly, it may be a sign your lungs arent working well, which could point to asthma, Dr. Benzaquen says.
There are other exams they can use, too, like exposing you to methacholine, a known asthma trigger, to see if your airways narrow, or allergy testing, since allergies and asthma are so often connected.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, itll be within one of four categories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mild intermittent asthma means you have minimal asthma symptoms for up to two days a week and up to two nights a month, while mild persistent asthma means youre experiencing symptoms more frequently than twice a week, but not more than once on any given day. Moderate persistent asthma ups the ante: Youre dealing with symptoms once a day and more than one night a week. Finally, severe persistent asthma involves constant symptoms most days and frequently at night too.
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The Common Cold The Flu And Asthma
The common cold and the flu are respiratory conditions that can lead to coughing, wheezing, and congestion. These symptoms, in turn, can lead to an asthma flare-up. The flu can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways, which can trigger asthma symptoms. This is one reason the CDC recommends all asthma patients get the flu vaccine and take precautions to avoid getting the flu.
Asthma is one of the leading causes of missed school and work, but it doesnt have to be. Asthma and allergy specialists can help identify your asthma triggers. Board-certified allergists will also develop a treatment and action plan to get your asthma under control. If you or a family member has uncontrolled asthma, schedule an appointment with our board-certified asthma specialist today and breathe easier.
About Secondhand Smoke And Asthma
Secondhand smoke is the smoke from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, that is exhaled by a smoker. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, including several compounds that cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for new cases of asthma in pre-school-aged children. Children’s developing bodies may make them more susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke. Due to their small size, they breathe more rapidly than adults, thereby taking in more secondhand smoke. Children receiving high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those with smoking parents, run the greatest relative risk of experiencing damaging health effects.
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Weather And Asthma Whats The Link
According to statistical study undertaken by Asthma UK, the leading asthma charity within the United Kingdom, up to 75% of asthmatics report worsening of symptoms after a sudden change of weather. This means that weather is a very important and often underestimated asthma trigger. Different factors such as cold air, damp conditions, wind, rain, lightning, air pressure and heat can all play a part in the onset of an asthma attack.
People affected by this condition have very sensitive airways which can react to even the slightest change in the quality of air, having a direct impact on breathing ease or difficulties.
Am I Having An Asthma Attack How To Tell And What To Do About It
- You may be having an asthma attack if you have extreme shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in your chest.
- Asthma attacks may be caused by allergen triggers like mold or dust, air irritants like smoke, illnesses like the flu, or vigorous exercise.;
- You should take an inhaler if you are having an asthma attack, but if you dont have an inhaler and cant breathe, call 911.
- This article;was medically reviewed by;Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist and laryngologist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institutes Pacific Eye, Ear & Skull Base Center at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.
One in 13 Americans have asthma, a condition that causes your airways to swell and makes it harder for you to breathe. When you have an asthma attack, symptoms like coughing or having trouble breathing can become severe and may even be deadly if you are not properly treated. Heres how to know if you are having an asthma attack and how to treat your symptoms.
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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.
How Do You Know If You Are Having An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack happens when the body is exposed to a triggerlike pollen or smokethat causes the airways to become inflamed and swollen.
Asthma attacks are uncomfortable to experience and can be frightening, especially for children. If you or someone you know is having any of the following symptoms, they may be having an asthma attack:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Chest tightness or pain;
- Coughing or wheezing
An asthma attack may go away after a few minutes with proper treatment, but symptoms can last longer and become life-threatening if untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know is having a severe asthma attack with one or more of the following symptoms:
- A feeling of panic about the asthma attack
- Pale and sweaty face
- Lips or fingernails that are turning blue
- No improvement in symptoms after using an inhaler
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Physical Exertion During Exercise Can Trigger Asthma Symptoms
Exercise can also trigger asthma symptoms due to the increased breathing rate that brings drier air into your lungs. This causes your airways to narrow making it harder to breathe leading to decreased endurance, coughing, wheezing, and other asthma symptoms.
This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction , or commonly exercise-induced asthma. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 90% of people with asthma have EIB, but not everyone with EIB has asthma. Many professional athletes compete with EIB; the goal of an asthma treatment plan is to let you enjoy your exercise and sports.
Petting Zoos And Farms
Some people are allergic to farm animals like cows, sheep and chickens, as well as small animals that are often found in petting zoos, like guinea pigs and rabbits.;
This could be a problem for children in particular, who might go on a school trip or to a party at a petting zoo or farm, but schools have to make sure that pupils with medical conditions like asthma are able to take part in school trips.;
If your child is visiting a farm or petting zoo, make sure the adults who are going with them know about their asthma.
Its essential for your child to take their reliever inhaler with them, and if the school has a spare inhaler for emergency use, an adult accompanying the trip should take that with them, too.
Your child might need to take an antihistamine beforehand. They should avoid contact with the animals as much as possible, and always wash their hands after touching an animal.;
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Can Allergies Trigger Asthma
Allergies and asthma are closely related conditions. An allergic reaction can trigger an asthma attack for people with asthma, causing allergy-induced asthma or allergic asthma. This makes it crucial for people with asthma to be aware of allergens and how they can spur asthma attacks.
Here, well discuss the link between allergies and asthma and offer tips for managing both conditions.;;
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.
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Causes Of An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack happens when your bronchial tubes, or air passages, become inflamed or blocked. The muscles around these tubes constrict and narrow, making it hard to breathe.;
The common causes of an asthma attack are:
- Allergen triggers, such as mold, pets or dust mites
- Air irritants, like smoke, perfume, or chemical smells
- Illnesses like the flu or a respiratory infection
- Vigorous exercise
There are other medical issues that can be confused for an asthma attack for example, it can be very difficult to distinguish an asthma attack from an allergic reaction, Madsen says.
In some cases, if you have asthma, having an allergic reaction can actually trigger an asthma attack, Madsen says. This can happen if you breathe in an allergen in the air like pollen or dust.
People who suffer from anxiety attacks may also experience shortness of breath and tightness in their chests, but there are differences in symptoms. Wheezing is a telltale sign of an asthma attack that may not show up in other conditions, Madsen says.
Sinusitis And Other Upper Respiratory Infections
Much like asthma causes inflammation in the lining of your airways, sinusitis causes inflammation in the mucus membranes that line your sinuses. This makes the membranes put out more mucus. If you have asthma and your sinuses get inflamed, your airways may too. Prompt treatment of a sinus infection can relieve asthma symptoms.
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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.
Other Conditions Can Cause Asthma
Infections, viruses, and diseases that affect your lungs can trigger your asthma. Examples include colds, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and the flu. Sinus infections and acid reflux can also cause an asthma flare-up, as can some medicines.
Perfumes and heavily scented items can aggravate your airways. Stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions can also trigger fast breathing. This irritation in your airway or fast breathing can cause an asthma flare-up too. Additionally, food allergies may cause an asthma attack, especially if you have a history of having an anaphylactic reaction to a food allergen.
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What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
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.
Air Fresheners And Scented Candles
Scented candles and indoor air fresheners can make your house smell extra fresh, sweet, floral, or earthy but they may be doing more harm than good when it comes to your health, the ACAAI notes. “We know that the fragrances from air fresheners; trigger allergy symptoms or aggravate existing allergies in a lot of people,” Dr. Tuck says. Perfume and flower scents are particularly likely to irritate sensitive airways, according to the results of research by a Swedish team published in the January 2016 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.
— Additional reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH
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But How Do You Know If Your Condition Is Asthma
First of all, it pays to know what asthma is. Asthma is simply a pulmonary disease characterized by an inflammation of the airways leading to lungs. When these airways swell and muscles around them tighten, the amount of air that passes through the airways is reduced. Thus, the shortness of breath or asthma attack. This happens especially when thick mucus fill the airways.
One way to distinguish asthma from common allergies is that allergies occur in the upper respiratory system. This is usually the case for nasal congestion, nasal drip and sinus pains resulting in chronic coughing. Meanwhile, asthma occurs when airways that carry air to and from the lungs are inflamed.
However, the most efficient way to diagnose asthma is through several breathing tests done by physicians. Medical examinations can be a combination of any of the following:
Know that asthma manifests differently to different people. While others may exhibit chronic wheezing, some may be experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath. To be able to manage asthma, its best to consult your physician, be properly diagnosed, and get the necessary prescriptions.
Cold Weather And Asthma
Cold weather is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. The following to help you control your symptoms in the cold:
- carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times and keep taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed
- if you need to use your inhaler more than usual, speak to your doctor about reviewing your treatment
- keep warm and dry wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, and carry an umbrella
- wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth this will help warm up the air before you breathe it
- try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth your nose warms the air as you breathe
Asthma Society of Ireland has more about weather and asthma.
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How To Prevent Alcohol
Of course, the simplest and most to the point solution would be to simply avoid alcohol. However, if youre a devoted drinker, maybe you should try to figure out which drinks exactly can cause a reaction. For example, spirits such as vodka, gin or tequila generally contain lower amounts of histamine. So, if the theory mentioned above holds true, these drinks should cause a reaction of a lesser intensity or not at all.
In addition, it is a good idea to have your reliever inhaler at hand when you do decide to drink, just to be safe!