Triggers for Asthma Attacks
What are the triggers that can cause an asthma attack?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American Lung Association, triggers for asthma may include:
Respiratory infections and sinusitis
Infections can cause irritation of the airways, nose, throat, lungs, and sinuses, and may precede an asthma attack.
Sensitivity to medications
Strong odors and sprays, such as perfumes, household cleaners, cooking fumes, paints, and varnishes
Chemicals such as coal, chalk dust, or talcum powder
Air pollutants, such as tobacco smoke, wood smoke, chemicals in the air and ozone
Changing weather conditions, including changes in temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and strong winds
Chemical exposure on the job, such as occupational vapors, dust, gases, or fumes.
Medications, such as aspirin and additives, such as sulfites, cause up to 20 percent of adult asthmatic attacks as a result of sensitivities or allergies to them. These medications often include:
Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen
Sulfites used as preservatives in food and beverage
Beta blockers used for heart disease, high blood pressure, migraines, and glaucoma.
Before taking any medication, including over-the-counter medications, talk with your health care provider.
Strenuous physical exercise can trigger an asthma attack, often because of the inhaled cool and dry air. Long-term strenuous activities, such as long distance running, are most likely to induce asthma, and swimming is the least likely.
GERD, or indigestion, a condition characterized by persistent reflux of stomach acids, is common in individuals with asthma. Symptoms may include heartburn, belching, or spitting up in infants.
Emotional anxiety and nervous stress
Tobacco smoke, whether directly or passively inhaled, has been shown to have harmful effects on the airways.
Wood smoke from wood-burning heating stoves and fireplaces can release irritating chemicals, such as sulfur dioxide.
Reactions from stress and anxiety are considered to be more of an effect than a cause. They can cause fatigue, which may affect the immune system and, in turn, increase either asthma symptoms or bring on an attack.