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Asthma Triggers – All Hot and Bothered
An asthma trigger is anything that brings on asthma symptoms; it does not cause asthma in itself, but because asthma patients have sensitive airways, it causes an attack. Everyone’s asthma is different and can have many triggers. An important aspect of asthma control is avoiding triggers. There are a number of well-known common triggers, some asthma triggers are obvious in that they are likely to cause some form of reaction from someone. For example: extremely cold air, cigarette smoke or bonfire smoke, but there are also those that are not known.
So the first step in managing our daughter’s asthma was to understand the various asthma triggers that affect her. My daughter’s asthma triggers seem to be mainly:
(1) Emotions such as over excitement or stress
(2) Most cats, guinea pigs, some dogs and other furry/feathered animals, but not their rats.
(3) House dust.
(4) Common cold and flu viruses.
(6) Heat – hot weather or an overheated house
Now that we have identified the triggers we can take precautions to avoid them. In addition to common sense, this is now recommended in a number of published guidelines on asthma care. All the measures we take aim to give the best possible quality of life, so we can avoid heavy medication regimes. One of the medications we rely on is the relief inhaler, as this seems to neutralize all but the most extreme triggers. This should be taken every day, but my daughter sometimes forgets, even on days when it is known that the triggers will be experienced, for example the cold air in winter. Therefore, part of the management of asthma is to gently remember that it must be taken every day to prevent having to resort to heavier medication to solve an asthma attack if it should be taken. As with most things related to asthma, it is worth discussing the options, on a regular basis, with your doctor and/or asthma nurse.
Knowing what the triggers are, and therefore when they are likely to be contacted, leads to being able to control these situations with the preventer and have less confidence in the reactive medication.
Different triggers can cause other complications. The effects of one can mask the effects of others, so it can be difficult to identify exactly what triggered an asthma attack. Sometimes the link is obvious, for example, when the symptoms start a few minutes after coming into contact, but some reactions are not so obvious. In my daughter’s case, it took some analysis to figure out that it was the pet bed and not the pet itself that caused the reaction. That’s why she gets along well with her rats, who share her room; but he must keep away from his sister’s guinea pigs, who live in the conservatory.
Because we live right next to a downtown park, it was almost inevitable that sooner or later we would have a dog. Our daughter is definitely allergic to most cats, but dogs don’t seem to bother her, in themselves. However, there is always the concern that the extra dust and airborne debris that a dog would cause could be a problem. There are a number of dogs that, although they are not completely hypoallergenic, are less likely to be affected than other dogs. These include the Poodle, Schnauzer, most hairless dogs (Yuk) and somewhere near the top of the list is the Weimaraner. Which is just as well, because this is the only breed of dog that my wife would enjoy. So that’s how we ended up with Spook.
Most people find that they are sensitive to a number of different triggers. It can therefore be difficult to identify them individually, as many can be contacted in one day. In the case of my daughter, summer is an obvious problem time as she suffers from Hayfever, very hot days add to the situation, especially since this causes even more dust and particles in the air in general around the house is outside.
Sometimes these triggers are obvious, but other times it is not so clear and this is when the other inhaler and even the nebuliser should be used. This is usually when the triggers have come in combination or have not been identified early enough. It is difficult to say how hot is too hot, how dust is too dust and, because it is very personal, what is the emotional state of someone and if they feel stressful.
Having a child with asthma, it is important to constantly monitor and manage the medical regimen and lifestyle. Because there is no cure for asthma, it is important to keep it under control. Prevention is better than having to deal with an attack. But it is also important to know what to do in case of an attack. When the child matures, they will understand their condition and will be able to discuss it directly with their asthma nurse. But as children forget and their priorities in life change, it is also necessary to monitor them.
Hopefully this will stop everyone from getting hot and bothered.
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