Learning About Asthma Triggers

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How asthma affects the airways of the lungs

What are asthma triggers?

When you have asthma, certain things can make your symptoms worse. These are called triggers. Learn what triggers an asthma attack for you, and avoid the triggers when you can. Common triggers include colds, smoke, air pollution, dust, pollen, pets, stress, and cold air.

How do asthma triggers affect you?

Triggers can make it harder for your lungs to work as they should. They can lead to sudden breathing problems and other symptoms. When you are around a trigger, an asthma attack is more likely. If your symptoms are severe, you may need emergency treatment or have to go to the hospital for treatment.

What can you do to avoid triggers?

The first thing is to know your triggers.

When you are having symptoms, note the things around you that might be causing them. Then look for patterns that may be triggering your symptoms. Record your triggers on a piece of paper or in an asthma diary. When you have your list of possible triggers, work with your doctor to find ways to avoid them.

Avoid colds and flu. Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need a second dose. Get a flu vaccine every year, as soon as it's available. If you must be around people with colds or the flu, wash your hands often.

Here are some ways to avoid a few common triggers.

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If there is a lot of pollution, pollen, or dust outside, stay at home and keep your windows closed. Use an air conditioner or air filter in your home. Check your local weather report or newspaper for air quality and pollen reports.

What else should you know?

  • Take your controller medicine every day, not just when you have symptoms. It helps prevent problems before they occur.
  • Your doctor may suggest that you check how well your lungs are working by measuring your peak expiratory flow (PEF) throughout the day. Your PEF may drop when you are near things that trigger symptoms.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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