These little things can trigger asthma attacks

These little things can trigger asthma attacks

One of the first steps to managing asthma is knowing what makes your symptoms flare up. Here are seven of the most notorious offenders — and how to avoid them.

Grandmother and grandson plant spring flowers outdoors

Did you know that factors in your environment you may be overlooking can cause an asthma flare up? Understanding what triggers your symptoms can help you prevent attacks. Learn how to limit these common triggers.

Smoke: All types of smoke can bother your lungs. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help quitting as soon as possible. Avoid secondhand smoke as well.

Dust mites: These are the most common year-round allergens, says Myron Zitt, M.D., past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Cockroaches and other bugs can be triggers too. Keep your home as clean as possible.

Pet dander: Keep pets off furniture and out of bedrooms. Bathe them weekly to get rid of pet dander and dead skin cells.

Mold: When it’s too damp in your house, mold can grow. Use a humidity monitor to keep your house within the recommended 30 to 40 percent humidity level.

Strong smells: Chemicals in perfumes, soaps, and household cleaners can be irritating. Use nontoxic, unscented cleaners, or natural alternatives such as baking soda and vinegar.

Pollen: During allergy season, check the allergen counts and Air Quality Index levels in your area each day before heading outside. If they’re high, consider keeping your windows closed and limiting your time outdoors. Another option: Wear a mask while gardening or doing yard work. The ACAAI recommends a specific type of mask to best protect yourself. It’s the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)–approved N95 particulate filtering facepiece respirator. You can find a list of suppliers on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. When you’re inside, consider using an air conditioner or HEPA air filter.

Viral infections: Even minor respiratory illnesses like colds can cause problems for people with asthma. Avoid viral infections by washing your hands frequently, keeping your distance from others, and getting an annual flu shot.