Common Asthma Triggers
Certain things cause, or trigger, "asthma attacks" or make asthma worse. Some of the common asthma triggers are:
- Infections in the airways
- Viral infections of the ear, nose, and throat
- Other infections (such as pneumonia)
- Things in the environment (outside or indoor air you breathe)
- Cigarette smoke
- Irritants in the air (air pollution)
- Cold air, dry air
- Sudden changes in the weather
- Things your child may be allergic to (allergens)
- Dust (house dust mites)
- Emotional stress
Work with your pediatrician to determine what triggers your child's asthma. Once those triggers are defined, avoid contact with them to reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks. Your pediatrician will also recommend asthma medications for your child and will talk to you about when to use them. Some of these medications are used continuously. Others are used only during asthma attacks. There are two general groups of asthma medications - bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Bronchodilators open up narrow passageways. They help relieve the feeling of tightness in the chest, wheezing, and breathlessness.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs help prevent the swelling and inflammation in the airways and may increase drainage of secretions from the airways. These drugs can be given by mouth, by injection, or can be inhaled in an aerosol (mist) form.
Medications are one aspect of an overall treatment plan. There are other factors to consider such as reducing exposure to triggers and monitoring treatment. You and your child's pediatrician should work together to create a treatment plan, the goals of which should be to:
- If possible, eliminate the things that are triggering attacks, including irritants such as cigarette, cigar or pipe smoke, and substances to which your child is allergic, such as dust and mold.
- Gain control of the wheezing and return lung function to normal.
- With your pediatrician, develop a sensible "plan of response" for any major asthma attack in order to reduce the need for emergency medical treatment and hospitalization.
- Allow your child to grow and develop normally, and take part in normal childhood activities as fully as possible.
- Decrease frequency and severity of attacks.
- Ensure regular school attendance.
- Ensure a good night's sleep.
- Minimize use of medication to decrease risk of negative drug symptoms.
- Decrease use of emergency room.
(c) Copyright 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics