So, we’ve identified potential asthma triggers. We understand the risks associated with exposure to those triggers. Apart from eliminating the obvious, such as not smoking, what exactly can we do about them when our daily activities involve regular contact and avoidance just isn’t practical? The answer is: a great deal!
Tips for Preventing and Controlling Asthma Triggers
All asthmatics should always carry their asthma inhalers with them. In most cases, a minor adjustment to our everyday routine is all that’s required to control triggers and prevent an attack.
All asthmatics should always carry their asthma inhalers with them, even when they think they are entering a “low” risk environment. This is the best practical measure you can take. An asthma inhaler is designed to help prevent the onset of an asthma attack — fast. These devices are light and easy to carry but, most important, they are highly effective at delivering medicine to the airways quickly.
- Occupational asthma is frequently misdiagnosed as chronic bronchitis. If you suspect that substances in the workplace precipitate your attacks, consult your doctor immediately. Request an allergy test.
- Are you exposed to platinum salt dust, baker’s flour or isocyanates (used in manufacture of polyurethane foams, paints and electronic insulation), or trimellitic anhydride (TMA) and phthalic acid anhydride (hardening agents used to set epoxy resins)? All are known potent allergens.
If your occupation requires that you wear rubber gloves, substitute non-latex gloves. Allergy to latex is fairly commonplace.
If left untreated, your condition will only worsen with time and you may even risk permanent lung damage.
Asthma in the Home
- Replace feather and down-filled pillows, quilts and cushions with those filled with man-made fibers.
- Cover mattresses and box springs with zippered, dust-proof covers.
- Keep your home as dust-free as possible. No half measures — house dust mites are major triggers!
- Remove carpets from the bedroom.
- Replace upholstered bedroom furniture with leather or vinyl.
- Keep windows tightly shut during pollen season.
- Consider the possibility that your pet cat, dog, bird or any other furry or feathered friend is the root cause.
Asthma and Pregnancy
- Look into your family medical history. The tendency to allergic asthma can be inherited. If you or a family member is asthmatic, there’s a higher risk that your baby could be affected.
- Asthma and pregnancy doesn’t pose a problem in the majority of cases. However, you’re advised to take a little more care with your normal management routine. Most likely, you will be advised to continue taking your prescribed medication. Studies suggest that most prescribed asthma medications are generally safe for the fetus. Your physician should be consulted for specific recommendations.
- Although management of the condition usually doesn’t change dramatically during pregnancy, take care in the first few weeks to avoid any unnecessary medication. Avoid combination remedies that contain drugs other than standard asthma medications.
- A few drugs should be avoided altogether, including: adrenaline (except when prescribed by a doctor), codeine, potassium iodide, phenobarbitone and other barbiturates, tetracycline, ciprofoxacin and aminoglycoside antibiotics.
- Don’t be complacent if your child has a wheezing cough or is breathless. Consult your doctor and explore the possibility that your child may be suffering from childhood asthma.
- Don’t smoke or take your child into a smoky environment. Cigarette smoke is a well-known trigger.
- Ask your doctor to test whether your child has become sensitized to dust mite protein. Those who have will produce IgE antibodies.
- Reduce the likelihood that your child’s toys are infested with house dust mites. Tip: To kill these mites put the soft toy in the freezer for a few hours.
- Make sure that your child knows how to use an inhaler properly. (Does your child possess the latest version of asthma inhalers?)
- Use a peak flow monitor to measure your child’s breathing capacity.
- Limit exposure to strenuous outdoor play, particularly in the spring and fall when pollen levels are high.
- Stress and emotions are major triggers. Never underestimate even a young baby’s ability to react to a stressful environment.
- Avoid intense exertion in cold, dry conditions.
- If you’re prone to wheezing while exercising, don’t just assume you’re unfit. You may be suffering from exercise induced asthma.
- Asthmatics should try to avoid participation in winter sports, e.g. skiing, vigorous ice skating and ice hockey.
- Outdoor sports involving sustained exertion, such as football or long-distance running, are less suitable sports than those involving short bursts of exertion.
- Consider activities that are more leisurely paced.
Do You Know Your Treatment Options?
The best methods for controlling asthma vary among asthmatics. Prevention and treatment methods should be individualized. When working with your doctor to develop the program that is best suited to your condition it’s often helpful to bring along printouts of information about treatment options and a list of any questions you have.