How Can You Prevent Asthma Attacks
You can prevent some asthma attacks by avoiding those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:
- Irritants in the air, such as cigarette smoke or other kinds of air pollution. Don’t smoke, and try to avoid being around others when they smoke.
- Things you are allergic to, such as pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or pollen. When you can, avoid those things you are allergic to. It may also help to take certain kinds of allergy medicine.
- Exercise. Ask your doctor about using a quick-relief inhaler before you exercise if this is a trigger for you.
- Other things like dry, cold air; an infection; or some medicines, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Try not to exercise outside when it is cold and dry. Talk to your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infections. And ask about what medicines you should avoid.
Its Difficult To Say For Sure Why People Get Asthma But Thanks To Research Were Clear About Some Of The Risk Factors That Make Asthma More Likely
What causes asthma is different to what triggers asthma:
- The causes are the underlying reasons why someone gets asthma in the first place.
- Triggers are things like dust mites or pollen that can make asthma symptoms worse.
Here we look at what causes asthma, and where its possible for you to lower the risk. The good news is that some of these risk factors are things you can do something about.
Follow Your Asthma Action Plan
- Your asthma action plan describes which controller medicines to take every day to help delay the long-term effects of asthma. The action plan also contains the steps to treat asthma attacks. See an example of an asthma action plan .
- Use an asthma diary to help manage your asthma. Record your peak expiratory flow or your symptoms, or both. Also list the cause of your symptoms and what medicines you took for quick relief.
Learn About Asthma And See Your Doctor
- Educate yourself about asthma. Your doctor may give you a to help you find out what you already know about asthma.
- See your doctor regularly to monitor your asthma. How often you’ll need checkups depends on how well your asthma is controlled. Checkups are recommended every 1 to 12 months. Bring your asthma plan to appointments.
- Set goals that relate to your quality of life. Being able to measure your success motivates you to follow your asthma plan consistently. Decide what you want to be able to do. Have nights free of symptoms? Be able to exercise on a regular basis? Feel secure in knowing you can deal with an asthma attack? Work with your doctor to see if your goals are realistic and how to meet them.
- Know your barriers and solutions. What may prevent you from following your plan? These may be physical barriers, such as living far from your doctor or pharmacy. Or you may have emotional barriers, such as fears about asthma, or unrealistic expectations. Discuss your barriers with your doctor, and work to find solutions.
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.
Symptoms Of Food Allergies And Asthma
For most people, the usual symptoms of food allergies are , , , vomiting, and . If you have food allergies that trigger symptoms of an asthma attack, you will likely have these allergy symptoms, followed by and . And if not caught quickly, anaphylaxis — swelling of the throat, cutting off your airway — may result.
If you suspect certain foods are asthma triggers for you, talk to your doctor. They can give you allergy skin tests to find out if youâre allergic to these foods.
Follow An Asthma Action Plan:
Developing an asthma action plan with your doctor can support you control your condition. The plan should document important information, such as your prescriptions, how to handle asthma attacks, and how to control your asthma indicators in the long run. Most plans detached asthma symptoms into 3 colored zones green, yellow and red to help you monitor the sternness of your symptoms.
It is a constant condition that necessitates regular monitoring and treatment. Taking control of your treatment can make you feel more in control of your condition, and life in general.
Do Men Or Women Have Higher Rates Of Asthma
- Women are more likely to have asthma than men. 9.8 percent of women have asthma, compared to 6.1 percent of men.1
- Women are more likely to die from asthma than men.7
- Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. 8.4 percent of boys have asthma, compared to 5.5 percent of girls.1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . 2019 National Health Interview Survey data. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from:
Ferrante, G., & La Grutta, S. . The Burden of Pediatric Asthma. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 6.
Zahran, H., Bailey, C., Damon, S., Garbe, P. and Breysse, P. . Vital signs: Asthma in children United States, 20012016. .
National Center for Health Statistics. . National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. . Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
National Center for Health Statistics. . National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System: Mortality . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
Tests To Identify Triggers
If you have persistent asthma and take medicine every day, your doctor may ask about your exposure to substances that cause an allergic reaction. For more information about testing for triggers, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis.
Exposure To Tobacco Smoke Among Those Diagnosed With Asthma
The negative health effects of tobacco smoke are well established.Footnote 3 For those with asthma, exposure to tobacco smoke, either directly or indirectly, can provoke or exacerbate an asthmatic condition . Smoking cessation or elimination of second hand smoke exposure among those who have asthma can lead to better controlled asthma. The SLCDC found that among those who have asthma:
- 14.7% reported that they were current smokers .
- 26.2% reported that they were former smokers.
- 22.6% indicated members of their household smoke.
- Of those who indicated that a household member smokes, 37.5% indicated a doctor or other health professional suggested that other members of their household quit or cut down smoking to help control their asthma.
The Dangers Of Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is a well-known asthma trigger. If you smoke, consider quitting, especially if your child has asthma. Secondhand smoke can harm the lungs, cause long-term breathing problems, and make existing breathing problems worse.
Kids with asthma who live in households with smokers:
- may have flare-ups more often
- are more likely to have to go the emergency room with severe asthma flare-ups
- are more likely to miss school because of their asthma
- must take more asthma medicine
- have asthma that’s harder to control, even with medicine
Even kids who don’t have asthma are at risk of problems if their parents smoke. These kids are more likely to get upper respiratory infections, middle ear infections, and even . Being exposed to smoke from 10 cigarettes per day may put kids at risk of developing asthma, even if they’ve never had any breathing problems before.
Cigarette smoke can also get absorbed into upholstery, clothing, and carpeting, leaving carcinogens that can’t be washed away with soap and water. Kids who touch, mouth, play on, or breathe near contaminated surfaces may develop breathing problems from this kind of “thirdhand” smoke.
And here’s the best reason of all to quit smoking: Children whose parents smoke are more likely to smoke when they get older.
You don’t have to quit on your own. Talk to your doctor about possible strategies from support groups to medication. If you do continue smoking, don’t smoke in the house or car.
Asthma Attacks And What Makes Them Worse
Your airways narrow when they overreact to certain substances. These are known as asthma . What triggers asthma symptoms varies from person to person.
When asthma symptoms suddenly occur, it is called an asthma attack . Asthma attacks can occur rarely or frequently. They may be mild to severe.
Although some asthma attacks occur very suddenly, many become worse gradually over a period of several days. In general, you can take care of symptoms at home by following your asthma action plan. A severe attack may need emergency treatment and in rare cases can be fatal.
Asthma is as intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.
How Do Asthma And Asthma Outcomes Differ By Race/ethnicity
African Americans are more likely to have asthma than either Caucasians or Hispanics, but asthma has increased across all three ethnic groups. Females, black people, and Puerto Ricans are more likely to have asthma, as well. Among Hispanic individuals, Puerto Ricans are more likely to have asthma than Mexicans.2
Non-Hispanic blacks, both adults and male children, are more likely to die from asthma than other groups.
What Are The Symptoms
Asthma can be different for everyone. Asthma symptoms can also vary over time, with few or no symptoms when asthma is well controlled. The common signs and symptoms of poorly controlled asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping because of breathing difficulty
- Being unable to take part in physical activities without breathing difficulty
These symptoms can occur slowly over hours or days, or they can come on as sudden, recurring attacks after which the symptoms can persist for some time before disappearing. If left untreated, asthma can cause permanent structural changes in your airways called airway remodelling, which is why it is important to get your asthma under control and keep treating it over the long term.
What Raises The Risk
“Having more than five different symptoms in the first week was one of the key risk factors,” Dr Claire Steves, from Kings College London, told BBC News.
Covid-19 is more than just a cough – and the virus that causes it can affect organs throughout the body.
Somebody who had a cough, fatigue, headache and diarrhoea, and lost their sense of smell – which are all potential symptoms – would be at higher risk than somebody who had a cough alone.
The risk also rises with age – particularly over 50 – as did being female.
Dr Steves said: “We’ve seen from the early data coming out that men were at much more risk of very severe disease and sadly of dying from Covid. It appears that women are more at risk of long Covid.”
No previous medical conditions were linked to long Covid except asthma and lung disease.
Why Are More People Getting Asthma And Allergies
Some researchers put the increase in asthma and other allergic conditions over the last few decades down to the fact that we live in much cleaner, more urban conditions. This means we have less contact with the friendly bacteria that thrive in more rural, natural environments.
Along with fewer childhood infections, this has resulted in lowered immunity, and more chance of allergies, including asthma.
The ‘hygiene hypothesis’
The idea that were missing out on exposure to useful microbes early in life began to be considered a while back with a theory known as the hygiene hypothesis. This was based on evidence that children growing up in large families, in unhygienic homes, had fewer allergies, including asthma.
More recent research suggests babies exposed to friendly bacteria in the first few months of their lives are thought to have less risk of developing asthma and allergies.
This is why some studies show that children growing up on farms have fewer allergies, and other studies show that having a dog in the house when your baby is very small can protect them from allergies and asthma. The studies are based on exposure to friendly microbes in babies less than two or three months old.
But being around animals, or being in a natural environment, may not necessarily protect your child against asthma other factors need to be taken into account, such as if theres a family history of allergy and asthma.
Fast Facts About Asthma: Data Compiled From The 2011 Survey On Living With Chronic Diseases In Canada
For readers interested in the PDF version, the document is available for downloading or viewing:
Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness and wheezing. Asthma symptoms and attacks usually occur after exercise, exposure to allergens or irritants, or viral respiratory infections.Footnote 1 Risk factors for asthma include: family history of allergies; high exposure to airborne allergens ; frequent respiratory infections early in life; exposure to airborne irritants ; and low birth weight and respiratory distress syndrome .Footnote 2
In 2009-10, more than 2.4 million Canadians aged 12 years and over were living with asthma . While there are many effective approaches to asthma including clinical management, medication and self-care, optimal control of the condition remains elusive for a majority of Canadians living with asthma.
The Public Health Agency of Canada developed the 2011 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada , which provides current information on how asthma affects Canadians. This survey, conducted by Statistics Canada, interviewed a nationally-representative sample of approximately 2,500 Canadians aged 12 years and older who reported having been diagnosed with asthma. Individuals experiencing both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were excluded.
Medication Use Is A Key Component Of Asthma Management
There are two main types of asthma medicines: preventer medicine and rescue medicine. Asthma preventer medicine is prescribed to be taken every day either on a regular basis or at certain times of year, to reduce the inflammation of the airways. Asthma rescue medicine is prescribed to be taken when needed – during an asthma attack or breathing difficulty, or sometimes before exercising or exposure to known triggers to open the airways.
- 87.2% reported that they currently take prescribed medications for their asthma.
- 58.0% reported taking a preventer medication in the past month.
- Those who used preventer medication in the past month were asked to identify when they take them :
- 70.9% reported taking it at appropriate times .
- In some cases people may be using their preventer medication as if it were a symptom reliever: 39.4% reported taking it at inappropriate times .
Figure 1: What are Canadians doing to manage their asthma?
What Should I Do If I Have Food Allergies And Asthma
There are simple ways to say safe:
- Avoid the food trigger. Try not to come into contact with the food youâre allergic to. Always read labels and ask how foods are prepared when you eat out.
- Consider allergy shots. They can train your immune system to not overreact. The doctors will give you allergy shots — a small amount of the substance that causes your . After repeated shots over a period of time, your immune system eventually stops causing the allergic reaction. Ask your doctor if youâre a candidate for allergy shots. Sublingual immunotherapy is an alternative to allergy shots. You let the medicine dissolve under your instead of getting a shot.
- Keep with you. If your are severe, you should keep two epinephrine shot kits with you that are always easy to get to. If you have any sign of , donât hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector, even if you arenât sure your symptoms are allergy-related. Using the auto-injector as a precaution wonât hurt you and might save you. Dial 911 after you give yourself the shot.
Which Racial Or Ethnic Groups Have Higher Asthma Rates
- See AAFAs groundbreaking research report on Asthma Disparities in America.
- Racial and ethnic differences in asthma frequency, illness and death are highly connected with poverty, city air quality, indoor allergens, not enough patient education and poor health care.
- The rate of asthma and the prevalence of asthma episodes is highest among Black Americans.1
- Black children are three times as likely to have asthma compared to white children.1
- Compared to white Americans, Black Americans are five times more likely to visit the emergency department due to asthma.6
- Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to die from asthma than white Americans7
- When sex is factored in, Black females have the highest rate of fatality due to asthma. In 2019, Black women were three times more likely to die from asthma than white men.7
Global Epidemic Of Asthma Prevalencesubsiding In Some Parts Of The World
Although greater awareness, recognition, and/or diagnostic shifts have been suggested as contributory factors to the steep rise in asthma prevalence observed over the last four decades of the Twentieth century, repeated cross-sectional surveys using objective measures, such as bronchial hyperreactivity, have confirmed that these factors are unlikely to fully explain this epidemic . Though the specific elements driving this rise in prevalence have not been established, it is now clear that the reasons almost certainly are linked to changing environmental factors, acting through gene-by-environmental interactions. Given the rapidity with which the prevalence has risen, this argues against alterations to the population’s genetic makeup alone.
Asthma mortality and hospitalization rates with acute severe asthma attacks also increased in all age groups during the period from 1960 to 1985, with the highest rates of increase in young pre-school children . Following this period, during the 1990s and early 2000s, a decreasing trend in severity has been observed. However, despite novel treatments and improved inhalers for the administration of topical therapies, no further improvements in either mortality or hospitalization rates have been observed in the last decade, either in children or in adults .
Give Teens Extra Attention
Teens who have asthma may view the disease as cutting into their independence and setting them apart from their peers. Parents and other adults can offer support and encouragement to help teens stick with a treatment program. It’s important to:
- Help your teen remember that asthma is only one part of life.
- Allow your teen to meet with the doctor alone. This will encourage your teen to become involved in his or her care.
- Work out a daily management plan that allows a teen to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for strong lungs and overall health.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking and drug use.
- Encourage your teen to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.
Role Of Sex Hormones In Airway Physiology
Non-immunological mechanisms, such as gender differences in AHR, smooth muscle contractility, and mucus production, may also drive the gender differences in asthma. Baseline AHR is increased in male mice compared to female mice for both BALB/c and C57BL/6 strains of mice. Increased basal AHR in male mice is potentially caused by fewer numbers of alveoli and decreased alveolar surface area compared to female mice as ovariectomized female mice have similar alveoli structures as male mice . Additionally, ER– and ER- signaling is important for alveolar development since ER- and ER- deficient mice have decreased alveoli. A gender differences in smooth muscle contractility is also reported with vagal nerve responses increased in male mice compared to female mice in response to methacholine and carabachol challenge . However, following gonadectomy male mice has similar levels of vagal nerve responses as intact female mice . Restoring androgens to gonadectomized mice increased vagal nerve responses and increased AHR in these mice .
Comprehensive Asthma Care At Henry Ford
Henry Ford Health Systems doctors and respiratory therapists understand asthmas symptoms and how to help you control them. We provide accurate diagnosis so youll know if asthma or another condition is troubling you. And we offer solutions to keep you active while living with asthma.
When your doctor refers you to Henry Ford for expert diagnosis and treatment, you can be confident that were here for you. We care for patients with complex conditions, from initial diagnosis to long-term treatment. Meet our pulmonary team.
Environmental Factors And Asthma
Indoor air pollution such as cigarette smoke, mold, and noxious fumes from household cleaners and paints can cause allergic reactions and asthma. Environmental factors such as pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity are all known to trigger asthma in susceptible individuals. In fact, asthma symptoms and hospital admissions are greatly increased during periods of heavy air pollution. Ozone is the major destructive ingredient in smog. It causes , shortness of breath, and even chest pain — and can boost the susceptibility to infection. Sulfur dioxide, another component of smog, also irritates the airways and constricts the air passages, resulting in asthma attacks.
Gas stoves are the primary source of indoor nitrogen dioxide, a common indoor pollutant. Studies show that people who cook with gas are more likely to have wheezing, breathlessness, asthma attacks, and hay fever than those who cook with other methods. It is estimated that more than half of the households in the U.S. use gas stoves.
Weather changes can also result in asthma attacks in some people. For instance, cold air causes airway congestion and an increase in mucus production. Increases in humidity may also cause breathing difficulty in a certain population.
Reducing The Burden Of Asthma
Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.
There are two main types of inhaler:
- bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms; and
- steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.
People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.
It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end, and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500-ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially-manufactured inhaler.
Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2019, only half of people with asthma had access to a bronchodilator and less than one in five had access to a steroid inhaler in public primary health-care facilities in low-income countries .