When you breathe in, air enters your body through the mouth or nose, passes through the throat, voice box, and the windpipe to the trachea. The trachea branches into two airways – the left and right bronchi, which then takes the air to the lungs. When you breathe out, the process takes place in reverse order. However, if you are an asthmatic, it becomes tougher as the airways swell up and get filled with mucus, making breathing difficult. The muscles around the airways tighten, and the airways become narrower, leading to the following symptoms:
- Breathing trouble
- Tightening of the chest
- Wheezing or noisy breathing
- Bouts of cough
- Rapid heartbeat
When the symptoms are severe, it is termed as a flare-up, and attacks can be triggered by allergens found all around us. There is no cure for asthma yet, but you can take treatments for both immediate and long-term relief. Bronchodilators or inhalers provide immediate relief during a flare-up, and medication like corticosteroids provide long-term relief.
You have to take the medication regularly and carry the inhaler with you all the time if you have asthma. Something that can trigger an asthma attack for one person can be safe for another. Some people may have an episode due to one trigger, while others may be sensitive to multiple triggers. Here are some of the most common asthma triggers:
Triggers in the air: The most common asthma triggers are substances found in the air around us. An asthmatic who inhales these is often susceptible to an asthma attack:
- Strong odors like perfumes, paints, and aerosols
- Cigarette smoke and tobacco
- Smoke from wood, charcoal, and vehicles
- Tree, grass, and pollen
Allergens at home: Children and adults, particularly those who spend a lot of time at home, are susceptible to frequent asthma attacks. Precautions should be taken to keep the house clean of the following triggers:
- Dust mites
- Cockroach droppings
- Dander from household pets
- Household cleaning supplies that contain chlorine and formaldehyde
- Fireplace smoke and ash
- Chilled food
Emotional triggers: Any sudden emotional upheaval can alter the breathing patterns for everyone, but it can trigger symptoms of an attack for an asthmatic:
- Anger and excitement
Avoiding the triggers
An allergy test will reveal what you are allergic to, and it is best to avoid being around such allergens. Healthy practices are your best guard against asthma:
- When you are outside, cover your nose and mouth with a protective mask.
- Abstain from tobacco products. Quit smoking if you do, and stay in non-smoking zones in public places.
- Within your home, vacuum regularly and keep it free of the allergens.
- Dry your mattresses and carpets in the sun as they are perfect hiding places for dust mites.
- Wash and change your linen frequently.
- Fumigate your house periodically. Since you are most likely allergic to chemicals, use non-toxic or organic pesticides and products.
- Breathing exercises can not only help you relax the muscles around the airway, but they can also help you to calm down and avoid sudden bursts of emotion that may lead to an attack.
- Wear protective gear during extreme weather.
Apart from the mentioned triggers, certain medication and illnesses can also trigger asthma, and it is important to carry your medications with you at all times. Keep one inhaler at the office, in your car, in your purse, and at home so that you are prepared all the time