Asthma Attack Triggers: Keep a Lid On It!

Nov 4, 2020 | Control Your Asthma!

Triggers for wheezing (bronchoconstriction) include:

* Pollen

* Dust Mites

* Cockroaches

* Mold

* Pet dander

* Tobacco Smoke

To prevent wheezing, you need to avoid these triggers.

If avoiding them isn’t possible, I can prescribe medicine suppresses the effect of triggers.


As you have learned, asthma symptoms occur when the breathing tubes or bronchi, clench down.  

We call this bronchoconstriction.

Bronchoconstriction blocks the flow of air to your lungs, creating labored breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain..

In most patients with asthma, this bronchoconstriction is ‘triggered’ by something outside of your body.  

Quite often, this ‘something’ is a breathable, microscopic particle.  When these particles land in your airways, they launch an allergic reaction in your airways.

These particles are called allergens.

There are a number of natural and man-made allergens that can trigger wheezing and asthma attacks.

Pollen from trees and plants that you inhale is one of the most common and difficult to avoid when you are outside.

The most problematic indoor allergen is dust mites.  These microscopic white insects eat the dead skin cells we humans shed.  These skin cells build up in carpet, upholstery, and bedding and sure enough, that’s where the mites will be.

Bronchoconstriction is triggered when microscopic parts of mite skeletons and mite fecal droppings are inhaled. 

Cockroaches are another big problem for asthma patients.

Cockroach fecal droppings can be inhaled in the same way as dust mites, leading to bronchoconstriction.

Another indoor allergen is mold .  A mold grows, microscopic spores are released and can be inhaled.  In some patients with asthma, these spores can trigger wheezing.

Some of our favorite pet companions can trigger wheezing.  The hair fiber of dogs and cats is composed of microscopic flakes called dander.

Dander is a powerful allergen in some people. 

Fortunately for us and them, bathing dogs and cats weekly dramatically reduces how much dander they release.

It comes as no surprise that Tobacco smoke is a powerful trigger of bronchospasm.

With short-term inhalation, tobacco smoke irritates the lining of the bronchi causing bronchospasm.  

With repeated inhalation, permanent damage occurs to the lungs, leading to emphysema and lung failure.

Other irritants that can trigger bronchospasm include: wood smoke from wood stoves, heaters and fireplaces, and, 

strong chemical odors released from perfumes, solvents and paint.


My Strategy for Handling Triggers:

Every patient has a unique response to triggers.

Usually, the most powerful trigger can be identified by you through past experience .  

The most important thing you can do to limit these trigger effects is to avoid the source of the trigger.  

While this sounds simple, it can be difficult to achieve in daily life.  

There are specific strategies that I will recommend for trigger avoidance.

But, when avoiding the trigger is not possible, I will prescribe medicine designed to help your airways resist bronchospasm from inhaled triggers.

As you can see, controlling triggers is a really important part of keeping your asthma controlled.

But there’s even more to learn, so let’s dig in!




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