What Triggers An Asthma Attack?

What Triggers Asthma Attacks?

Most asthmatics (people with asthma) find one or more of the following a trigger:

1. Strong smells including perfume and fragrant flowers.
2. Dry or cold air.
3. A substance in the air that irritates the airwaves such as cigarette smoke, traffic fumes and industrial pollutants. Domestic pollution is often the worst, especially if you have a gas cooker without adequate ventilation. Fortunately there is a lot you can do to improve the air you breathe.
4. Weather conditions, especially thunderstorms.
5. Exercise (because breathing hard dries out the airways).
6. Foods and drinks that contain sulfur based preservatives such as wine, beer, cider and soft drinks. Dried fruit (except those that state 'unsulphured'), french fries, ready-made salads, fruit salads and shellfish. On food packaging stay away from anything that contains sulphite, metabisulphite or E-numbers 220-227.
7. Foods that give you heartburn (acid reflux or GERD) can trigger attacks.
8. Foods containing histamine such as strawberries, tomatoes, pork, chocolate, egg white, pineapple, papaya and tartrazine (food additive used in yellow coloring).
9. Laughing, yawning, sighing, coughing or any other altered breathing pattern.
10. Stress or anxiety.
11. Situations or people that evoke unpleasant memories -including traumatic childhood memories; sometimes psychotherapy is needed to sort out
such problems.
12. Allergens responsible for the asthma, e.g. cat allergen, dust mites, mold, pollen.
13. Colds, flu and chest infections.

Less Common Causes

Overuse of aspirin and other antiinflammatory drugs (particularly in women who suffer from arthritis, menstrual cramps and headaches) can trigger an asthma attack in rare cases.

Are Asthma Attacks More Common In Pregnancy?

There is no evidence that asthma attacks are more common or severe during pregnancy, but asthma can still pose a problem for pregnant women. This is because restricted airflow can potentially starve the growing fetus of oxygen. Still, most women manage to stay healthy and give birth to healthy babies by continuing to take their asthma medication under the supervision of their doctor.

What Causes Asthma Attacks At Night?

Asthma at night is known as nocturnal asthma. People who suffer attacks at night find it particularly distressing because it leads to lack of sleep and exhaustion. Even more importantly, studies show more asthma deaths occur at night than at any other time. The exact cause of nocturnal asthma is not known, but it may include:

1. Lying down slows the rate secretions (from your nose, sinuses and lungs) leaving the airways.
2. Air conditioning, cold air can trigger attacks.
3. GERD or acid reflux can trigger an attack.
4. Hormone fluctuations (which change at nighttime).

Discover Your Triggers

Keep a diary to record your asthma symptoms, this will help you identify your personal triggers. Generally, triggers should be avoided, except perhaps for exercise. Not exercising does more harm than good in the long run- without exercise, your asthma will get far worse. Funny enough - exercise induced asthma is best treated by exercise! As your fitness improves, you don't have to pant so hard so your airways are less likely to dry out. Many asthmatics say that once you get over the first hurdle - the wheezing in the first few minutes - the exercise gets easier. See what is the best exercise for asthma?

• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions

What Is Asthma?
Clear and simple definition.
What Causes Asthma?
Discover the links to DNA, lifestyle and obesity.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Testing for the condition.
When is asthma not asthma?
Other things that can mimic symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma?
Do you show any of the signs?.
What Is An Asthma Diet?
Healthy foods to prevent attacks.
What Is The Treatment For Asthma?
Most common medications.

When Is A Cough Asthma?
Chronic coughing may be a sign.

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