When most people think of asthma, they often think of exercise-induced asthma. Exercise is a major trigger for asthmatics, it’s true, but there are many other triggers out there. If you can determine what yours are, and learn how to minimize them in your life, your asthma symptoms will be much easier to understand and control.
Personally, I’m one of the lucky asthmatics with a bunch of triggers. So, I’ll give you some basic tips to help you decide if you share the trigger and what to do.
First up is my biggest trigger: allergies. I’m allergic to just about everything and so when my allergies are bad, so is my asthma. If you have known allergies, pay special attention to your asthma when around the things you are allergic to. If not, look out for symptoms like itching, hives, watery eyes, and a runny nose, when your asthma is bad. This will help you determine if there is a link between your asthma and allergies. If allergies are a trigger for you, make sure to avoid contact with allergens. If you’re allergic to dust like me, switch to hypoallergenic pillows and make sure to vacuum often. If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid being outside when the pollen count is high in your area. One big tip I use is to recirculate the air conditioning in your car because it helps prevent pollen from entering your air.
Another huge trigger is stress. I recently wrote an article for HealthCentral that talked about the cycle of asthma and stress and some ways to avoid it, but I’ll give you a quick crash course. If you notice that your asthma gets worse in really stressful situations, stress is probably a trigger for you. To minimize the stress as a trigger, minimize the stress in your life. Try things like setting aside “me time” or taking up yoga.
One trigger a lot of people are unaware of is cold air. This one is amazing to me because, for me at least, it shows instantaneously. If I walk outside in the winter, I can immediately tell a big difference. If this is a trigger for you, you’re in luck, as it is one of the easiest to recognize and minimize. Always wear a scarf when it’s cold outside, and cover your mouth if you will be outside for long. There is one tip I absolutely swear by: Drink warm liquids. This one is literally a lifesaver for me. Warm liquids help to warm and relax airways and can turn an attack from emergency-room-worthy to no big deal quickly. If you are having symptoms and can’t get to coffee in time, even hot water from the sink will do wonders.
I’ve talked about a few of my triggers and how to avoid them, but there are tons of factors that contribute to your asthma. A few I didn’t mention are: smoke, pollution, pets, foods, heartburn, colds, humidity, aerosols, and certain medications. The best way to determine what your triggers are is to be observant. Whenever you have symptoms, take note of what led up to the symptoms and how you are feeling. Maybe even keep a journal. Talk to your doctor and ask others with asthma what they do to minimize contact with triggers that you might have. This will help you get your asthma under control in no time.