What triggers it?
While there are risk factors associated with asthma that you can’t change, such as genetics or your gender, there are some things that you can do something about. There are a number of ‘asthma triggers’, which are things that set off the symptoms of asthma or make existing symptoms worse. There may be a number of triggers that irritate the airways and cause asthma and it can be tricky to work out exactly what is causing the symptoms.
In many cases, asthma is triggered by a substance you are allergic to, such as:
- house dust mites
- moulds and fungi
- the dander in animal hair
- environmental pollution such as car exhaust fumes
- smoking or breathing in secondhand cigarette smoke
- recreational drugs
- certain medications
- certain foods
Asthma can also be triggered by:
- anxiety and stress
- respiratory tract infections such as colds and flu
- hormones (in women)
- changes in weather
Sometimes it will be obvious that something causes your asthma symptoms - for example if you stroke a cat or dog and then shortly afterwards your symptoms start. Other triggers are harder to identify, for example, grass pollen may bring on your asthma, but as it’s invisible you might not make the connection. There may also be more than one trigger involved in setting off your asthma, and sometimes the symptoms might not show up until a while after you’ve come into contact with the trigger.
A good tip when trying to pinpoint what is causing asthma is to keep a diary of where you were and what you were doing when you noticed your symptoms begin to flare up so that you can spot if certain things are present every time.
Once you have identified what causes your symptoms it is easier to try to avoid those things and reduce the risk of setting off asthma symptoms or making them worse.