Being a gallant asthmatic means more than simply taking all your medicines compliantly and having an Asthma Action Plan. It also involves knowing what your asthma triggers are and how to deal with them.
We asthmatics often have chronically inflamed air passages that are sensitive to certain asthma triggers. A trigger is anything that causes you to have asthma symptoms. The challenging thing is that every person has different asthma triggers.
According to NationalJewishHealth.org, here are some common asthma triggers:
Airway irritants: Strong odors, tobacco smoke, smoke from woodburning stoves or kerosene stoves and fireplaces, dust, air pollution, perfume, aerosol spray, paint fumes, gasoline fumes, solvents, chemicals, etc.
Animals: Animal dander, saliva and urine from feathered or furry animals. These include allergies to dogs, cats, birts, etc.
Changes in breathing: Sneezing, coughing, laughing, crying, hyperventilating, stress, holding your breath, sleep disorders, etc.
Excercize: Running, jumping, general exercize, etc.
Food and drugs: Allergies to nuts, chocolate, milk, sulfites, tartazine, betablockers (Inderal, Lopressor, Corgard, Timoptic, etc), asprin, ibuprophen products, etc.
Health and physical condition: Fatigue, colds, respiratory infections, influenza, sinusitis, gastroesophogeal reflux (GERD), etc.
Other allergies: Molds, dust mites, medications, cockroaches, etc.
Plants: Allergies to trees, grasses, weeds, pollen, etc.
Weather and elements: Wind, weather changes, rain, snow, hot or cold temperatures, high humidity, low humidity, changes in barometric pressure, etc.
Emotions: Any feeling that could precipitate an attack.
Time: Just get it at night or during the day
So, which of the above are your asthma triggers?
A gallant asthmatic will be aware of and avoid possible asthma triggers to the best of his ability – within reason of course.
You may even need to make changes in your life that are difficult, such as finding someone else to cut your grass, getting rid of a cat or dog, avoiding foods that you are allergic to, or staying inside or slowing down when the weather is too hot or cold, or weather changes pose a problem.
Smoke and other irritants can often be avoided with some effort. If you have asthma you should never smoke, nor allow someone to smoke near you, and you should avoid places where smoking is allowed.
Excercise triggers can often be avoided by premedicating yourself as prescribed by your doctor, and not running outdoors if the weather is too cold or hot-- a treadmill works great for these occasions.
Good body care and good health habits such as daily baths or showers, and handwashing, can help you avoid common infections. And keeping your home clean and clear of molds and dust with frequent cleaning can also be a big help.
An influenza vaccination is often recommended for asthmatics to avoid the influenza trigger.
Stress is not easily avoidable, which is why we all should consider a good stress management plan, which may include healthy eating, exercise and relaxation exercises.
New medicines like Advair and Symbicort can make your lungs stronger and make your body better capable of handling irritants. For many asthmatics, these meds are all that is needed to control asthma even in the presence of triggers.
Another great medicine is Singulair, which has allowed many asthmatics – including myself – to better deal with allergens.
And of course, for those days when a pesky irritant shows up and bothers your asthma despite your best efforts, you should have an Asthma Action Plan ready and roaring to go.
Learning what you’re allergic to can be as easy as your doctor performing an allergy test on you. But learning what your other triggers are will mean being vigilant to the environment around you when you are having an attack.
I think most asthmatics would agree with me that avoiding asthma triggers is extremely
difficult, if not daunting. But we gallant asthmatics are up to the task.