You get exposed to simple, everyday things and presto—there goes the lung spasm.
Everyone has their own triggers, but there are ways you can protect yourself. First, identify your triggers. Once you’re sure a particular element within your body OR in the surrounding environment is a culprit, then it’s time to put a plan into action.
Figuring Out Your Trigger
First, consider a number of the most common triggers. They include:
- Airborne allergens
- Environmental pollution
- Acid reflux
- Food allergies
- Emotional stressors
- Strong odors
It seems like a long list to keep track of, doesn’t it? Your personal list of triggers is likely to be shorter, and these are the top areas to investigate when you’re trying to reduce the chance of having an asthma attack.
Keep in mind that what causes an attack for you may not be on this list. Talk to your doctor and maintain a journal of the circumstances that surround your attacks. You may be surprised at the patterns you discover.
Eliminating Your Asthma Triggers
Now, consider eliminating those triggers. Airborne allergens, environmental pollution, the weather and smoking are all related to what you are breathing in and could provoke an attack. There’s not much you can do about the weather. However, if you find you do better in a drier environment, a move to a drier state may be in order if the impact is significant enough for you. If a move is not practical, try to avoid humidity as much as possible by spending time in air-conditioned environments when it’s hot and steamy outside.
You may have more control over removing allergens from your environment or avoiding them completely. For instance, cats, dust mites, and smoking. If these are your triggers, limit your exposure – i.e., visiting friends who have pets or being in a smoky environment. Consider finding new homes for pets that trigger your asthma attacks. If giving your pet to a loving home is not an option, get a HEPA filter vacuum for your home, reduce the amount of carpeting you have, and keep the pet out of your bedroom. Some people report improvement with simple household air filters.
Many asthma sufferers experience exercise-induced asthma in which strenuous activity can lead to an asthma attack. Be careful with your routine, don’t push yourself too hard, and take it slowly. Try to limit exercise that causes more heavy breathing and explore more easily controlled options like yoga, stretching, swimming, and moderate weight lifting exercises.
Acid reflux is something to consider. It can be diagnosed and treated by your doctor with medications and/or diet changes. Identify the foods that cause asthma attacks so that you can remove those foods from your diet. Do this with an elimination diet or by having an allergist conduct tests.
If you have asthma attacks in response to emotional stressors, you may want to explore different methods of stress management. Yoga may benefit body and mind, and help to keep you more relaxed. Biofeedback, meditation, and even talk therapy have all been helpful to people who need help handling the stress in their lives.
Important: If you have a panic disorder or anxiety condition, speak to your doctor for a referral to a therapist or talk with your therapist if you already have one. There are methods and practices for managing your reactions to stressful situations that may help to reduce asthma attacks.