More cases are being diagnosed with asthma than ever before. The cause may be an actual rise in the number of patients or increased awareness and better diagnostic facilities. For the sufferer, moderate to severe asthma remains a challenge to control despite the variety of treatments available.
In some cases, the patient is aware of the trigger, while in others it remains a mystery. House dust mites, pets, aerosols, pollen, flour, nuts and sea food are common trigger factors.
Recently available inhalers have helped control asthma effectively, though a cure remains elusive. Avoidance of trigger factors can help improve control of asthma tremendously.
A study conducted on school children bears this out. A group of school children with asthma was taken to Davos in Switzerland. As there is snow there most of the year, hence house dust mites don’t occur there. Consequently none of the school children needed their inhalers or other treatment of asthma during their stay in Davos.
To make it easier to live with asthma, try to avoid common triggers, as those listed below. Not everyone is sensitive to the same triggers, so you’ll have to find out from experience or observation.
- Food, e.g. nuts, chocolate, eggs, shellfish and peanut butter.
- Beverages such as orange juice, milk, squashes. The yellow food colouring, tartrazine, is often associated with asthma.
- Mold spores and pollen from flowers, trees, grasses, hay and ragweed. If pollen is an offender, an air conditioner with a filter helps.
- Animal dander, as that from cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, birds including chicken, doves and pigeons , cockatiels and budgerigars. Consider finding a new home for the pets.
- Feather stuffed pillows, wool clothing, stuffed toys. Use smooth washable blankets on your bed, not rough, fuzzy ones.
- Insect parts, like those from dead cockroaches and house mites.
- Medicines, such as aspirin and some other pain killers.
- Vapours from cleaning solvents, paint, paint thinner and liquid chlorine bleach.
- Spray products such as furniture polish, spray starch and room deodorants.
- Scents from spray deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays, talcum powder and cosmetics.
- Heavy furnishings, carpets and curtains that collect dust. Hang lightweight, washable cotton or synthetic fibre curtains; use washable cotton rugs on bare floors. Cover pillows and mattresses with impermeable covers, and wash blankets and sheets in very hot water weekly. Use unscented laundry soap and avoid fabric softeners.
- Brooms and dusters which raise dust. Instead, clean your bedroom daily by damp dusting and damp mopping. Keep the door closed.
- Dirty filters on air conditioners and coolers which blow dust into the air.
- Dust from vacuum cleaner exhaust.
In the workplace
- Dusts, vapours or fumes from wood products (particularly western red cedar, some pine and birch woods and mahogany); flour, cereals and other grains (as in baking and mills); coffee, tea; metals (platinum, chromium, nickel, sulphate, soldering fumes); cotton, flax and hemp.
- Mold from decaying hay.
- Cold air, hot air, sudden temperature changes (when you go in and out of air-conditioned stores in the summer or winter.
- Excessive humidity or dryness.
- Changes in seasons.
- Automobile exhausts.
- High pollen count.
- Overexertion, as during or after exercise, which may cause wheezing.
- Common cold, flu and other viruses. (You will need to increase your asthma medicines in this case.)
- Fear, anger, frustration, laughing too hard, crying or any emotionally upsetting situation.
- Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes. (Don’t smoke or stay in a room with people who do.)
- Fumes from perfume, cologne and aftershave.
- A bout of coughing.
- Drink enough fluids (at least eight glasses daily.)
- Take all medicines exactly as directed.
- Tell your doctor about any medications that you take (even over the counter ones.)
- Do only as much activity as you can tolerate, taking frequent rests on busy days.
- Avoid sleeping pills or sedatives to help you sleep because of a mild asthma attack: these medicines may slow down your breathing and make it more difficult. Instead, try propping yourself up on extra pillows.